This web page was prepared by the Indoor Environment Department (IED) Staff of the
Environmental Energy Technologies Division 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 IED and on research by others. The IED
conducts research on energy-efficient ventilation, pollutant transport,
particle control, and health and productivity in commercial buildings. The
research methods employed by this department 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 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 department'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.