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How Much Do We (All) Really Know About Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)? - Our August News

placeholder+imagePosted on: 08/31/2021


Welcome to our August Green Building News!

This month, I am excited to kick off what I trust will be an impactful set of conversations on indoor air quality.  If you’re reading this news, then you’re part our larger green building community and likely believe that healthy building is an essential part of green (and smart) building.  You also likely have some awareness of the importance of indoor air quality.  But how much do you think most people and organizations know?  You may have heard the often repeated factoids that we spend 90% or more of our time indoors, and that indoor air is 2-5 times (or a lot more) as toxic as outdoor air. But most of us aren’t experts in every green building segment, and even if so, let’s think through what our neighbors and other community members know about such a key topic.  

Stay tuned for some exciting in-depth content in the next months on ventilation, filtration, humidity control, air and water barriers, and more, but for now we thought it might be helpful to start with a 101-level Introduction to Indoor Air Quality, to see how easy it is to agree to a foundational level of knowledge, a place we can all start from.  And I wondered how obvious the information out there would seem.  Sometimes, it’s interesting to approach a topic as the non expert, although I am aware we have leaders in the field in this group who will quickly realize they can explain many of these concepts far better (edits are welcome!).  

What surprised me wasn’t what I read and reported as part of this article, as much as I wondered how many people can make the time for something so important but also so complex to decipher this information and form an action plan.  And honestly, I was disheartened.  Some questions: 

  • Do most of us know what we need to do to improve our indoor air quality?
  • How many of us have taken or are taking these actions? And, 
  • How many of us have the capacity to take next steps for better air?

As you know, our goal at Rate It Green is to foster green building connecting and learning so that we can reach a time where all buildings are more sustainable and healthy. We help people source products and services; connect green builders (both beginner and expert); enable, host, and then amplify discussions; and, as part of these efforts, we share the information you trust us with as widely as possible.  It occurs to me that IAQ is one of those topics where we have a real opportunity to reach beyond this community to make a difference, even for those who don’t have a stated interest in green building.  

COVID, and wildfires and other air pollution concerns have brought the importance of breathable air to the forefront of public attention.  But what does this mean for most people?  Do they have high efficiency filters at home, school or work?  Are they storing VOCs where it’s really not advisable?  Do they know some of the easier steps they can take to improve ventilation and filtration, prevent/remove toxins, and control moisture? Can they afford to hire an awesome HVAC company (and keep up with regular maintenance), or bring in a building performance expert to get advice?  And, can they afford to take these actions, and/or do they have time to prioritize IAQ?

Poor air is an unseen, irritating and potentially deadly danger.  Actually, unhealthy indoor air may be responsible for up 3% of global deaths annually, and 6% in poorer countries.  In the US, unhealthy indoor air may be the cause of 50% or more of respiratory illnesses annually.  These numbers are really frightening.  And yet, what if we work to figure out the best information to make a difference, to improve health, cognition, productivity, and even building values?  What top pieces of advice can we share?  What details can we explain to help those who want to improve their air quality at home, or convince their local school system or company to implement changes?  

Add your voice to this discussion!  We welcome your expertise, lessons learned, and questions, from the 101 to expert levels, and we are also eager to promote what people can do, from the low hanging fruit to the most complex challenges.  How do we best help everyone breathe better in our buildings?  I look forward to seeing what you can share, and I will be reporting in and amplifying your contributions.

For the full newsleter, Click this Link! 

Also, check out our related content!

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"Gas vs Electricity" Misperceptions Still Tipping the Scales?
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Radon and Vapor Control Layers in the 1920sMakeoverATL Showhouse: Pre-Project Testing
Asbestos Testing at the #1920sMakeoverATL Deep Energy Retrofit Project
Discussing Air Tightness and Blower Door Testing with Corbett Lunsford, Matt Hoots, and Chris Laumer-Giddens (Video)
Exploring Whole House Filtration and Particulate Matter, with Aprilaire (Video)
An Introduction to Aprilaire and Whole House Air Quality Systems (Video)
Whole House Humidity Control - Dehumidification and Humidification, with Aprilaire (Video)
Reviewing the Top Benefits of Healthy Air at Home, with Aprilaire (Video)
A Look at How ERVs Work with Panasonic: How 80% Efficiency Might Work in Practice (Video)
Whisper Green Fans from Panasonic Eco Solutions - Quiet Prevention for Moisture and Condensation (Video)
A Quick Look at Mitsubishi Electric's Residential HVAC Models - Gains in Energy Efficiency (Video)
Reducing the Natural Gas “Bridge,” for Human and Environmental Health
Building Electrification: Why It Matters to Your Wallet, Health, Comfort, and the Environment
9 Keys to Avoiding Sick Building Syndrome
Green Office Tips: How to Create a Greener Office Building

Thanks in advance!