EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

7.6 Indoor Air Quality

Indoor pollution consistently ranks among the top five environmental risks to public health. Because, by statistics, Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors, the impact of building environment is increased compared to outdoor environment. Many air quality technologies need to be planned at the design stage of the building, since accumulation and removal of contaminants is largely dependent on air flow, moisture condensation patterns, and other physical properties. Physics and flow dynamics of the building need to be understood thoroughly in order to be used to the occupant benefit.

What are the main factors that can potentially make the indoor air a health problem?

Refer to the following reading source to study this question.

Reading Assignment:

Armstrong, J., Chapter 7. Health, Comfort, and Productivity (pp. 172-182), in Green Building: Project Planning and Cost Estimating, RSMeans, John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2011 [available online through PSU library system].

This reading introduces you to the main issues related to indoor air quality in buildings as well as the methods and technologies to maintain it or improve it.

Check Your Understanding:

List typical measures to ensure good indoor air quality in buildings.

Click for answer.

*provide ventilation (passive or active design)
*minimize off-gassing - for example, select materials free from formaldehyde, VOCs, and other toxic chemicals
*prevent mold - for example by using moisture intrusion retarders and water-proofing
*mitigate noxious gases - radon, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia - by monitoring and design for removal
*mitigate dust (particulate matter) - for example, by air filtering and vacuuming