Given the risks associated with breathing in polluted air, it’s little wonder that industry observers have noted that indoor air quality is a growing concern.
For builders aiming to ensure their homes are healthy, the experts at UL Environment Inc.—an environmental services consulting firm specializing in building materials—recommend evaluating the design of the building envelop to ensure the air- and moisture-barriers are appropriate for the moisture level of the home’s climate.
Pressure relations between the home’s interior and the exterior should also be considered to avoid sucking air in through unplanned pathways, such as around windows and up through floors, where it may pick up unwanted particles; and to avoid pushing damp air into cold exterior walls.
Inside the home, UL recommends using a heat energy recovery ventilator to ensure tightly enclosed homes get enough outdoor air to residents.
Products and finishes can also release toxic particles into the air; to prevent that, UL’s experts recommend specifying building products and finishes that have been certified for low chemical emissions. They advise paying special attention to materials used in cabinetry and coatings, since these often produce particularly high emissions.
Additionally, be sure to install a filter in the HVAC system to help avoid circulating particulates (the product’s MERV rating can help you choose the most appropriate filter for a given building).
What steps have you found to be effective for improving indoor air quality? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments sections below.
Note: This is Part 2 of a three-part series on indoor air quality. Click here for Part 1, and look for Part 3 later this week for tips on how to improve air quality in commercial buildings.