Health and Comfort

[ID: a small to medium sized building is shown in the middle. It has vegetation on the roof and and a gathering space and a callout “green buildings”. Solar panels on the roof have a callout “smart buildings”. Other callouts at the base of the building on the left and right are “healthy buildings” and “safe buildings”]

Multi-Week Series on “Five Fundamental Shifts Laying the Foundation for the Healthy Buildings Era”

Gone are the days when costly equipment and highly trained technicians were the only way to know how clean the indoor air is. Now, anyone can use low-cost sensors to measure the air quality inside buildings to challenge decision makers with the data they themselves collect. This empowers employees and consumers to advocate for themselves with advances in their buildings.

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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 vector image showing a mixed race classroom being ventilated

Multi-Week Series on Joseph Allen’s “Five Fundamental Laying the Foundation for the Healthy Buildings Era: Fundamental Shift #2, Ventilation Standards

Resuming our multi-week series, the second major shift in Joseph Allen’s “Five Fundamental Shifts Laying the Foundation for the Healthy Buildings Era” is in ventilation policy. This defines how much fresh air to bring into a building. On ASHRAE’s 62.1-2022 standard “Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality”, Dr. Allen argues, “’Acceptable’ should not be acceptable to any of us”.

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A cutaway cartoon of a bunch of different office spaces on three different floors of a building. Each room has a little to a lot of gray smoke in it, indicating polluted air.

Lancet Covid-19 Commission finds IAQ standards too low

the Lancet Covid-19 Commission released a report on current IAQ standards. They found they don’t protect against the spread of infectious diseases in the air. The report considers ventilation, filtration, and disinfection rates in five types of small and medium-sized spaces. These include office, restaurant dining room, elementary classroom, hotel lobby, and supermarket. The report states, “there is no debate that the current targets are too low”.

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Mostly blue sky in the bottom third of the image are beautiful purple flowers. One big one that takes up about half the height pops up in the bottom right.

Breathing Easier with Better Indoor Air Quality    

It’s well known that climate change impacts everything from polar ice caps to seasonal trends. It also silently impacts our health in ways we’re only starting to understand. Dr. Kari Nadeau, a key figure in the field of environmental health, is sounding the alarm on these under-recognized threats — most notably, the drastic alteration of pollen seasons and a staggering rise in wildfires.  

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People presenting as a heterosexual mixed race couple and their female-bodied child are sitting on a couch wearing masks and looking very serious.

High-Risk Populations and The Perils of Poor Indoor Air Quality    

Depending on the type of pollutant, and how much of it there is and how long one is exposed, the outcomes can range from mild symptoms to life-threatening situations. Even the most robust among us can be felled by carbon monoxide poisoning within minutes.

However, it is crucial to understand that some people are at a higher risk. Knowing who is at a higher risk and why can help us address the needs of the most vulnerable.

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