soil; conversely, at the top of the building, the pressure gradient across the building shell is reversed, so air flows out of the building. This thermal-stack effect is one of two principal mechanisms responsible for the natural ventilation of buildings; it is sometimes referred to as infiltration.
Wind also creates pressure differences between the inside and the outside of a building. The pressure fields can be complex and depend on the size and shape of the building and the wind direction. The pressure fields also extend into the surrounding soil, increasing the pressure of the soil air on the upwind side and decreasing it on the downwind side of the building (Riley and others 1996). The net effect is usually an airflow out of the top of the building caused by the Bernoulli effect of the wind over the roof or by the reduction in air pressure on the leeward side of the building. In response to the slightly lower air pressure in the building, ''makeup" air flows in through openings in the building shell, some of which might provide direct contact with soil air.
The effects of the thermal stack and the wind can independently result in indoor-outdoor pressure differences of about the same size at the lower portions of the building shell. For example, an indoor-outdoor temperature difference of 20 °C (a common wintertime temperature difference in many parts of the United States) results in an indoor-outdoor pressure difference of about-3 Pa at the bottom of the thermal stack (the basement or other ground-contact floor). Similarly, a wind speed of 4 m s-1 results in an indoor-outdoor pressure difference of about-2 Pa for a typical house (the relationship between the indoor-outdoor pressure difference and wind speed is quadratic, so doubling the wind speed increases the pressure difference by a factor of 4). Those are "steady-state" values. Temperature differences usually do not change very rapidly, but in the course of a day outdoor temperatures can change by 20 °C or more as part of the diurnal cycle. Wind speeds and directions are highly changeable, and this leads to substantial variation in "instantaneous" pressures. A more detailed discussion of the pressure gradients developed in buildings can be found in Liddament (1986).
The operation of mechanical systems in a building can lower the pressure in a building, especially when the flows induced by these systems are unbalanced. Operation of an exhaust fan—such as a bathroom or kitchen fan, whole-house fan, or, in some cases, an attic fan—will result in lower indoor pressures. Just as in the case of infiltration, the "makeup" air flows into the house through leaks in the building shell, some of which provide a pathway for soil-air entry. Operation of a forced-air heating and cooling system can also lead to unbalanced flows and result in lower indoor pressures, depending on the locations of the supply and return ducts and their leakage characteristics.
Molecular diffusion, driven by the concentration difference between low-concentration regions, such as the interior of a building, and the higher-concen-