Building Certification and Indoor Air Quality: What You Need to Know


When it comes to building certification, many people think about energy efficiency and sustainability. While these are important aspects, another crucial factor that should not be overlooked is indoor air quality (IAQ). Poor IAQ can lead to a range of health problems, including respiratory issues, headaches, and allergies. In this article, we will explore the link between building certification and IAQ, and what you need to know to ensure a healthy environment for yourself and others.

What is Building Certification?

Building certification is a process that evaluates the sustainability and efficiency of a building. It typically involves an assessment of factors such as energy and water use, waste management, and materials sourcing. The most well-known building certification systems include LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), and WELL Building Standard.

While these certifications are primarily focused on sustainability and efficiency, they also take into account the health and well-being of building occupants. For example, the WELL Building Standard includes features such as natural light, biophilic design, and access to healthy food options. Similarly, the LEED certification rewards buildings that have good indoor air quality, as this is seen as a key factor in creating a healthy and productive environment.

What is Indoor Air Quality?

Indoor air quality refers to the quality of the air inside a building, and how it affects the health and well-being of the occupants. Poor IAQ can be caused by a range of factors, including:

Chemical pollutants from cleaning products, building materials, and furnishings

Biological pollutants such as mold and bacteria

Outdoor air pollutants that enter the building through ventilation systems or open windows

Poor ventilation and air circulation

The symptoms of poor IAQ can vary depending on the individual, but common effects include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. In severe cases, poor IAQ can lead to respiratory issues such as asthma and bronchitis.

How Building Certification Impacts Indoor Air Quality

Building certification systems like LEED and WELL are designed to promote good IAQ by encouraging buildings to use low-emission materials and products, provide effective ventilation, and reduce the presence of pollutants. For example, the LEED certification system includes credits for buildings that use HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems that meet certain standards for air quality and ventilation rate. Similarly, the WELL Building Standard includes features such as air filtration and monitoring systems, as well as guidelines for the use of low-emission building materials.

By meeting these standards, certified buildings can provide a healthier environment for their occupants, leading to increased productivity, better health outcomes, and reduced absenteeism. Additionally, buildings that are certified for their sustainability and efficiency are often more energy-efficient, which can lead to cost savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

What Can You Do to Improve Indoor Air Quality?

If you are concerned about the indoor air quality in your home or workplace, there are several steps you can take to improve it:

Identify the sources of pollution: Look for potential sources of pollution such as cleaning products, carpets, and furniture, and try to reduce their use or switch to low-emission alternatives.

Improve ventilation: Make sure your home or workplace has adequate ventilation and air circulation. This can be done by opening windows, using fans, or installing a ventilation system.

Monitor humidity levels: High humidity levels can lead to the growth of mold and bacteria, which can cause health problems. Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels, and use a dehumidifier if necessary to maintain a comfortable and healthy level.


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