Fundamentals of Residential Ventilation for Architects and Builders

This course is under two hours, and it requires no prior knowledge of mechanical systems. It is appropriate for both new graduates and experienced professionals. The course clearly and concisely presents the fundamental concepts and applications that are absolutely critical for designers who wish to prioritize indoor air quality and environmental responsibility.

Receive 2.5 American Institute of Architects continuing education credits while you learn

Take a good look at your thermostat and think about what you don’t see: There is no setting for humidity, no setting for ventilation, no setting for pollution filtration, no setting for any of the many other important air-handling variables that are absolutely critical not only to comfort and health but also to building durability. Too often, architects think of air control as something that involves a magic box with ducts attached to it—something that is entirely the responsibility of the mechanical contractor. But there is much more to it than that. It isn’t a question of how the box works or how big it needs to be: Before we can decide what kind of mechanical system we need for a building, we need to really understand everything it is that we need such a system—or systems—to do. In other words, architects and builders must understand what—specifically—to ask of their mechanical contractors in the context of any given project. There are the four big considerations (temperature, humidity, fresh air, pollution control) that interact with each other—and with building materials—in ways that are not always obvious. And, on top of that, we want to accomplish our air-handling goals without using too much energy—mechanical systems are among the largest energy consumers in a building, and it is practically impossible to meet energy-efficiency goals without getting the mechanical systems right.

We will begin by taking a hard, critical look at our interior-air goals—what we want the interior environment to be like and why—and then move on to a comprehensive look at current practices for conditioning and managing indoor air, including the most common problems with the status quo such as poor indoor air quality, poor humidity control, condensation, rot, mold, and occupant discomfort. We will then conclude with the best practical options for improving on those practices. At the end of the course, you will understand handling interior air not as a single, big, overwhelming task but as a series of smaller, discrete tasks that are much more manageable once you really understand them.

After attending this presentation, participants should be able to:
Describe typical ideal interior conditions and explain why they are ideal, including constraints related to comfort, health, and building durability.
Articulate the most common problems associated with exhaust-only ventilation.
Distinguish between mechanical conditioning and mechanical ventilation and describe the most common approach to residential ventilation (“exhaust-only ventilation”).
Describe specific incremental changes to standard residential mechanical systems design that would improve indoor air quality, durability, and comfort.

Fundamentals of Residential Ventilation for Architects and Builders

Frequently Asked Questions

How hard is this course on residential ventilation and are there any prerequisites?
The subject matter itself is challenging and certainly requires an engaged mind! But there are no prerequisites apart from an understanding of standard architectural conventions of representation: how to make sense of plans, sections, and elevations. This course does not require any special understanding of mechanical systems or equipment beyond the very basic terminology.
What if I’m not an architect or architect-in-training?
You are of course very welcome to take the classes anyway and will certainly benefit from it! That said, the course presumes that participants are able to read architectural drawings. Most builders will be very comfortable with the subject matter and how it is presented.
Is this class appropriate for architects practicing outside of North America?
Physics is the same everywhere, but building practices are not. This class is tailored for a North American audience.
How long is this class on residential ventilation?
This course is about an hour and forty-five minutes. It is offered lecture-style and you may take it on-demand whenever you wish (and as many times as you wish). There is also an accompanying course packet that you may download. The course packet contains a written summary of the material presented, plus all of the images and photos shown in the video.
Do you offer student discounts?
No. These courses are an investment... and they're a good one! The courses are designed not just to help you now, but also to serve as a resource and a reference throughout your career. (And anyway we're all students!)
Is it okay if I share my login credentials with a friend so that we can take the course together?
No. The course cost covers a single user. Sharing your login credentials is stealing.
But what if I really prefer to learn in a group setting?
I would be very happy to prepare a custom course just for you! My rates start at $5,000 for a day-long course. Email me at for more information.
How do I get AIA credit for the classes?
Your information will be submitted to the AIA after you complete a short series of multiple choice “summative assessment questions” after each session. You must answer 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass. (But don’t stress about this: The classes and the handouts prepare you very well for the quizzes, and there’s no limit on taking or retaking them).
Is this course on ventilation suitable for both residential and commercial designers?
No. The focus of this course is on residential ventilation for single-family homes. Many of the principles covered can, of course, be applied to commercial construction, but the examples are all residential.
Is there a time limit to taking the classes?
The videos are on-demand, so you can take them on your own schedule, and you may take them as many times as you want. They are approved for AIA continuing education credit through October 2023.
Can I watch the videos when I'm not connected to the Internet?
No. The videos can only be streamed with an Internet connection. However, each video is accompanied by a downloadable PDF course packet that includes a written summary of the technical material as well as all of the drawings and illustrations from the video. These can be used offline for reference and reinforcement.
Do you offer group discounts?
No. There is a group discount for Building Science for Architects, but not for any of the shorter classes. The price is just the price.
Can I purchase a multiple-user license so that a group can take the course at the same time?
These courses are designed for individual learning. And they're designed to be a reference that you return to throughout your career as particular concepts become newly relevant with new projects. Your login credentials are for you, and you alone. That said, lots of small groups take these courses “together” on the same schedule and meet offline to discuss them. Kind of like a book club. The course packet can be used to facilitate group discussion by serving as an outline to guide the conversation.