Indoor air quality in sustainable, energy efficient buildings


Building designers, contractors, owners, and managers have long been challenged with providing quality indoor environments at a reasonable energy cost. Current efforts to improve building energy efficiency, including goals of sustainability and net-zero energy use, are bringing more focus on how to simultaneously achieve energy efficiency and good indoor air quality (IAQ). While energy efficiency and IAQ are sometimes viewed as incompatible, there are many strategies than support both ends.

Room ready for renovation

This article discusses the relationship between IAQ and energy efficiency, with outdoor air ventilation being the primary connection. A number of strategies that are currently being used or proposed to provide both improved IAQ and energy efficiency are highlighted, including increased envelope airtightness, heat recovery ventilation, demand controlled ventilation, and improved system maintenance. In addition, the manner in which various green and sustainable building programs, standards, and guidance documents address IAQ is reviewed. These programs and documents are driving the trend towards sustainable buildings, and the manner in which they consider IAQ is critical to achieving energy efficient buildings with good indoor environments.

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