Climate Resilience

a bar chart shows that DIY box fans outperform other more expensive manufactured portable air cleaners. DIY fans run at 52 decibels, while other manufactured PACs run at 55, 56, and 64 decibels.

Our Homes, Our Selves: Research Pending on Indoor Air Quality Post-Wildfires      

These wildfires not only caused physical destruction but also left a lasting impact on the air quality within homes. The Harvard study aims to assess the indoor concentration of pollutants like particulate matter and chemical gases from everyday items (aka VOCs) and from being burned incompletely (aka PAHs). Understanding these impacts will inform how we address indoor spaces after the wildfire smoke is gone. 

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exposure to 50% of outdoor air comes from being inside

Multi-Week Series on “Five Fundamental Shifts Laying the Foundation for the Healthy Buildings Era”: Fundamental Shift #4: Climate Shift

In the 4th week of our series on “Five Fundamental Shifts for Healthy Buildings,” by Dr. Joseph Allen, we address a critical question: Are healthy buildings (with clean air) and green buildings (focused on energy efficiency) mutually exclusive goals? It’s an important question as noted in the Opening Address by IPCC Chair at the Ministerial Segment of the HLPF on SD, ECOSOC, General Assembly in July 2023.

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A chart that shows "ODF Protected Lands - Average Acres Burned by Decade". From 1990-1999, 11,600 average acres burned. From 2000 to 2009, 26,500 average acres burned, which was an increase of 128%. In the 2010 to 2019, 41,700 average acres burned, which was an increase of 57% over the previous decade.

An Exterior Air Quality Threat: Wildfires in Oregon    

The Governor’s Council on Wildfire Response adopted the “National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy”. This has three goals: 

Create fire-adapted communities. 

Restore and maintain resilient landscapes. 

Respond safely and effectively to wildfire. 

Oregon must make broad changes in all three areas.

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A screenshot of a map of North America showing the great extent to which fires in Canada affected 2/3 of the United States.

Canada’s Wildfires Impact U.S. Air Quality: A Call for Action    

Canada is facing wildfires, and the smoke is reaching the U.S. David Burchfield, the CEO of BuildingLens, highlights this crisis, “Canada is on fire, and cities in the U.S. have some of the worst air quality in the world. Wildfire smoke does not care about borders. Or people. The climate crisis is here. Indoor spaces are going to be more precious than ever.”

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A city scape of small and tall buildings is shrouded in a cloak of smog at sunset. The color of the smog is deep orange on the lower left to yellow in the upper right.

From Heatwave to Health: How AirLens Can Keep Us Safe    

On Wednesday, July 5, 2023, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Southwest Clean Air Agency, and Lane Regional Air Protection Agency released a joint statement warning residents in the Portland-Vancouver, Salem, and Eugene-Springfield metropolitan areas about worsening air quality. People in this area faced increased levels of ozone pollution (i.e., smog) due to high temperatures and low winds.

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A screenshot of the University of Washington School of Public Health, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences department's information on "How to Build a Low-Cost Air Filter". Below the logo and Header are pictures and labels of a "Box fan", "20 inch by 20 inch by 1 inch furnace filter (MERV 13 or FPR 10) and "Optional: Duct tape or bungee cords"

DIY Box Fan Filters for Affordable Climate Adaptation    

Air purifiers, while effective, can be expensive and may become scarce during wildfire smoke events. In contrast, DIY box fan filters offer an affordable alternative, providing similar or even superior results in filtering out fine dust particles from wildfire smoke. For around $45, a trip to the hardware store can get you a 20-inch box fan, a 20-inch filter, and a 40-inch bungee cord. This is all you need to create your own effective air cleaner. 

Studies conducted by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency have demonstrated that box fan filters can be as good or better than a commercial air purifier.

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An historic image of a corner of the Albina District. These buildings were demolished through eminent domain.

Historical Context and Trust Issues: Evaluating Housing Conditions in the Black and African American Communities

We were recently made aware of a very well-done science-based report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) titled “Protecting the Health of Vulnerable Populations with In-Home Energy Efficiency: A Survey of Methods for Demonstrating Health Outcomes” [1]. In it, the authors, Sara Hayes and Ronald Denson Jr., lay out an important case for how energy efficiency and public health intersect. Besides being a cost-saving measure, energy efficiency can function as a proxy for health outcomes. Lower energy costs free up assets for acute needs such as health care and nutrition, especially for frontline communities bearing unfair burdens. Also, reduced energy use means less fossil fuel emmissions, leading to a decrease in harmful air pollution.

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BuildingLens logo, which is an icon of a white 3-4 story building with a magnifier glass. A white word "Building" is stacked on a white word "Lens" to the right of the icon.

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