Posts Tagged ‘Sick buildings’

McKinsey EE Report on Comfort and IAQ

August 3, 2009

Whew—tons of good stuff in here.  I do talk a lot about energy, but it’s not just energy.  In fact, many of our customers are more interested in comfort and health and safety.

Thus it’s reassuring to see this mentioned on page 13 of the report

Impact on comfort and health.  Energy efficiency upgrades, including proper insulation and sealing against air infiltration [emphasis added], can address a number of common residential problems, such as drafty rooms, cold floors in the winter, damp basements, dry air, musty odors, and mold.  Because people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors, many of these issues can lead to health risks, contributing to chronic allergies and asthma, as well as periodic illness.  Sick building syndrome (SBS), which is associated with poor indoor air quality, can manifest itself in building occupants as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, or skin, as well as other ailments.  Flaws in HVAC systems, emissions from some types of building materials, volatile organic compounds used indoors, and inadequate exhaust systems may be contributing factors.  Severe problems with heating or cooling systems, for example, can result in dangerous concentrations of carbon monoxide or radon gas.  Air and duct sealing and periodic maintenance of HVAC equipment can mitigate a number of these risks.  While quantifying the impact of higher air quality on health is difficult, research suggests that the benefits are significant.  Improved indoor air quality can reduce symptoms of SBS by 20 to 50 percent, asthma by 8 to 25 percent, and other respiratory illnesses by 26 to 76 percent.

Right on!


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