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Energy Efficient Homes and Indoor Air Quality

Energy Efficient Homes and Indoor Air Quality. Maria Sanchez, Dayana Ivanova, Alec Foust, Lucas Theirl. Background. 1970s: global energy crisis creates demand for energy efficiency More energy efficiency has led to less air exchange from inside the home and outside, and vice versa

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Energy Efficient Homes and Indoor Air Quality

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  1. Energy Efficient Homes and Indoor Air Quality Maria Sanchez, Dayana Ivanova, Alec Foust, Lucas Theirl

  2. Background • 1970s: global energy crisis creates demand for energy efficiency • More energy efficiency has led to less air exchange from inside the home and outside, and vice versa • Materials like paint, carpeting, and even the home’s structure can contribute to indoor pollution • Heaters and air conditioners amplify the problems of indoor air quality

  3. Practice #1 - Spray (Polyurethane) Foam • It fills tiny cracks and fissures in walls and roofs to form an air seal, but that doesn’t allow the room to breathe which increases humidity and the chance for mold. • “The high R-values of closed-cell foam pack a lot of punch in a small space, and closed-cell versions can block the movement of moisture into wall and roof cavities.” • Told to public it does not off-gas, but people say they have experienced neurological symptoms and strong odors have persisted after foam was sprayed. • Made with diisocyanates which is leading cause for asthma at the workplace • Recommended for people not to be inside when foam sprayed and not return until home is ventilated • Needs proper application otherwise heats up and bad odor is left

  4. Practices #2/#3 - Asbestos, Lead, PCBs Disturbance • Asbestos - Upgrade projects can disturb asbestos already present in previous insulation, coatings, flooring, roofing and other building components. • Lead - During renovations, lead-based paint can be disturbed and released into the air as “lead dust.” • Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) - Persistent, bioaccumulative toxins linked to reproductive and neurological problems and likely a human carcinogen. • Banned in 1979 in the US, buildings constructed before might still contain PCB - Fluorescent light Ballasts and Caulk • Caulking material was used around windows, door frames, stairways, building joints, and other masonry building materials in buildings constructed from the 1950s to the 1970s • PCBs released in the air from caulk material can be reabsorbed by other building materials to create secondary sources that can re-emit PCBs into the air

  5. Practice #3 - Source Control • Some practices of improved air quality in homes include; • Source Control • Air conditioning units or heating unit does not necessarily mean fresh air is coming into the homes • People need to increase the amount of outdoor air coming into their homes by opening windows or doors with screens to help increase the airflow- also later mentioned in ventilation • Some sources, like those that contain asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed; others, like gas stoves, can be adjusted to decrease the amount of emissions. In many cases, source control is also a more cost-efficient approach to protecting indoor air quality than increasing ventilation because increasing ventilation can increase energy costs. • Ventilation Improvements • Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house • Advanced designs of new homes are starting to feature mechanical systems that bring outdoor air into the home. Some of these designs include energy-efficient heat recovery ventilators • It is particularly important to make as many steps as possible while you are involved in short-term activities that can generate high levels of pollutants too • Including painting, cooking, sanding, renovation work, etc • Use of air cleaners • Many types and sizes of air cleaners on the market, ranging from relatively inexpensive table-top models to sophisticated and expensive whole-house systems • very efficient collector with a low air-circulation rate will not be effective, nor will a cleaner with a high air-circulation rate but a less efficient collector. • But air cleaners are not effective at reducing Radon levels or their decay process

  6. Practice #4 - Waste-based/Recycled Materials • Usage of recycled building materials is often encouraged in the construction of “green buildings” to receive the highest certification level possible • Fly ash - A fine byproduct of burning pulverized coal in electric power generating plants; substitute for cement and additive to building materials • Exposes residents to a suite of heavy metals with toxic properties • Speculation about relationship to radon levels • Various recycled building materials can re-emit pollutants that were absorbed on their surfaces, used during the recycling process, or that accumulated from previous applications • Toxic materials can be reused and reapplied in buildings • Waste-create bricks - Usage of industrial or agricultural solid waste to create green building materials • Brownfields with abandoned buildings - materials can be recovered and reused, sold through local markets, or recycled offsite

  7. Solutions: Weatherization Assistance Program • Program by the Department of Energy to help low-income families make their homes more energy efficient • Homeowners in the program are educated about various hazards, like carbon monoxide, mold, and indoor pollution • Human health is a big priority in the program • Proper ventilation to guarantee “adequate indoor air quality” • Installation of smoke and carbon monoxide monitors “when needed” • Evaluation of “mold/moisture risk”

  8. Works Cited • http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1044 • https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2018/03/f49/WAP-fact-sheet_final.pdf • http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/qa-spotlight/does-spray-foam-insulation-gas-poisonous-fumes • https://www.eli.org/sites/default/files/eli-pubs/addressing-indoor-air-quality-school-energy-efficiency-upgrades_0.pdf • https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/improving-indoor-air-quality • https://www.eli.org/sites/default/files/eli-pubs/addressing-indoor-air-quality-school-energy-efficiency-upgrades_0.pdf • https://sites.google.com/site/metropolitanforensics/pcbs-present-in-sealants-and-paints-in-older-buildings • http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/qa-spotlight/does-spray-foam-insulation-gas-poisonous-fumes • https://ac.els-cdn.com/S0360132316304346/1-s2.0-S0360132316304346-main.pdf?_tid=a47d342b-b67a-4383-bbd4-2ef498096a0c&acdnat=1524015186_6337f6639bfdc2d0ad4a69e1edec45d3 • https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/cdbrochure.pdf • https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/improving-indoor-air-quality

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