Air quality is influential to our health and deeply intertwined with the way we design, build, and operate our homes. Its essential to think about these factors, since poor air quality can lead to serious health problems such as Asthma and heart disease. While methods exist to monitor and report outdoor air quality, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index, monitoring indoor air quality is equally as important. After all, people in the United States spend on average 90% of their time indoors.
You might be thinking, “I have smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors, so I’m probably okay.” However, smoke and carbon monoxide are just the tip of the iceberg of harmful substances, and chances are if your detectors are going off, you are probably already breathing in the harmful pollutants. It is best to have a proactive rather than reactive response and eliminate harmful substances at their source.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
You’ve probably already heard about the dangers of smoke and Carbon Monoxide, however there are other sources of indoor air pollution including:
- Building Materials such as paint, adhesives, and insulation
- Cleaning Products
- Radon and Methane off-gassing beneath the building
- Combustion from stoves, fireplaces, and gas appliances
- Occupant smoking
- Pollutants tracked in by occupant shoes
Sources of indoor air pollution vary depending on the function of the building and the activities that take place within it. Whereas a home might be exposed to Carbon Monoxide from utilizing a natural gas range, a commercial building might be polluted because of combustion in its commercial HVAC system.
Green Buildings and Indoor Air Quality
The green building industry is pioneering the framework necessary to maintain the highest air quality for all building occupants. Two examples are the WELL Building Standard and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications. These certifications contain mandatory requirements and credits for adopting best practices that protect indoor air. Some examples include:
- Prohibiting smoking near entrances, windows, and vents
- Using building materials that emit low volatile organic compounds
- Sizing ventilation systems according to the number of occupants and expected activity within the building
- Implementing a green cleaning policy
- Utilizing mats, grilles, or grates at entryways to reduce pollutants tracked in by foot traffic
Eliminating sources of pollution is just the beginning of what green buildings have to offer. Unlike traditional buildings, green buildings utilize guidelines established by organizations such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to ensure continuous improvement as well as clean air remaining at the foundation of the building’s future.
The San Diego Green Building Council & Indoor Air Quality
Health & Wellness is one of the San Diego Green Buildings Council’s key pillars, along with providing educational opportunities that support mental, physical, and ecological health. Our recently launched program, The Electric Home Cooktop Program, was created to help minimize the harmful effects of natural gas ranges in homes by promoting a healthier alternative, the induction cooktop. Unlike gas ranges, induction cooktops do not produce dangerous pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, and particulate matter. Additionally, participants will be able to experience cooking with an Induction cooktop, from the comfort of their homes.
To learn more about the program or participate please visit our newly launched Electric Home Cooktop Program (EHCP) Website. You can also find more information on the health benefits of eliminating natural gas in your home by visiting the EHCP resources section.