Fading grid on green Commercial Building Ventilation and Indoor Environmental Quality

This web page was prepared by the Indoor Environment Group (IEG) Staff of the Energy Technologies Area at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It contains results of recent research concerning ventilation and indoor air quality. The audience for this web site is meant to be building managers, architects, and other building professionals.

The information on this web site is based on research performed by the IEG and on research by others. The IEG conducts research on energy-efficient ventilation, pollutant transport, particle control, and health and productivity in commercial buildings. The research methods employed by this group include controlled laboratory studies, extensive multi-disciplinary field studies, modeling, and reviews and syntheses of data. Associated research topics include the following:

Ventilation Rates and Technologies For commercial and residential buildings, how are ventilation rates measured, what are the effects of ventilation on building occupants and what are the effects of the ventilation rate on pollutant concentrations?

Indoor VOC's Indoor air quality is important to human health because individuals spend a large fraction of their time indoors at their residences, schools and workplaces. In addition, there are numerous sources of airborne toxic pollutants in these indoor environments where outdoor air ventilation provides the only primary means to dilute pollutant concentrations. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) are one class of indoor pollutants that may cause irritation to building occupants.

Sick Building Syndrome Characteristics of buildings and indoor environments have been linked to the prevalence of acute building-related health symptoms, often called sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms, experienced by building occupants. SBS symptoms, which include irritation of eyes, nose, and skin, headache, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.

Filtration for Particles and Other Pollutants Filters and other particle air cleaners are used extensively in buildings to remove particles from incoming outdoor air and from recirculated indoor air. Historically, filters were installed to reduce the accumulation of deposited particles on HVAC equipment which diminished air flow rates and impeded heat transfer. Within the last two decades, the potential benefits to health have been increasingly recognized as a primary purpose of filtration. Other potential benefits of filtration include reducing unsightly soiling of indoor surfaces and reducing the deposition and accumulation of organic matter on surfaces such as HVAC ducts where it can become odorous or provide a substrate for microbiological colonization.

Much of this groups's research is performed in collaboration with other research institutions, particularly the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Center for Environmental Design Research at the University of California, Berkeley. The funding for the majority of the research reported here was by the Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Renewable Energy, Office of Building Technologies, Building Systems and Materials Division of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under contract No. DE-AC03-76SF00098.

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