Thursday, January 15, 2009

Protecting Indoor Air Quality Required as Homes Go Green

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Just like an old neighborhood as it gentrifies, so is the residential construction industry as it undergoes a significant shift from old ways of building to new sustainable (green) practices. With this change, comes a requirement to insure healthy indoor air for those inside, while protecting the natural resources of our planet outside. Architects, homebuilders and contractors are learning that a homeowner's right for non-toxic, healthy indoor environments ranks right up there with energy and environmental conservation.

Results of a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and McGraw-Hill bear this out in terms of market share and homeowner attitudes. For example, the U.S. residential green building market is expected to double in size garnering 12% to 20% ($40 billion to $70 billion) market share by 2012. The survey results also showed that 70% of homebuyers were more apt to buy green even in today's economic climate, and 87% were at least moderately knowledgeable about green home construction. Homeowners cited lower operating costs through energy savings (91%), having a healthier place to live (84%) and environmental concerns (80%) as the top three most important reasons for buying green homes.

Yet, according to the survey results, which were reported in the McGraw-Hill Construction 2008 SmartMarket Reports, builders still tend to focus more on energy and environmental conservation in their selection of green features, such as tight construction, insulation, Energy Star(R) products and water-efficient plumbing. While these features are excellent choices for lowering energy costs and conserving water, they may inadvertently contribute to poor indoor air quality (IAQ).

"As with commercial buildings, super tight, insulated homes with minimal ventilation and low air change rates can result in indoor mold growth and indoor air pollutants building up to levels that threaten occupant health. Conversely, pursuing good IAQ without considering the efficient use of energy may unnecessarily increase construction and energy costs, create financial hardships for families, and increase emissions of greenhouse gases, thereby contributing to outdoor air pollution" said Tony Worthan, President of Air Quality Sciences, Inc. (AQS).

A new white paper from AQS, titled Energy Conservation and Indoor Air Quality: Benefits of Achieving Both in Homes, explains the importance of balancing the efficient use of energy with good indoor air quality. It also emphasizes that all those involved in building and renovating homes must strive towards adopting one defining common set of green principles that place equal emphasis on energy efficiency and protecting occupant health (good IAQ). The two must work in concert with one another. In addition, this white paper reviews who is most at risk from indoor air pollution, common indoor air contaminants found in homes, their sources, health impacts and what steps can be taken to achieve efficient use of energy and good IAQ.

This white paper completes a three-part series on energy and indoor air quality. The other two papers in the series, Energy Conservation and Indoor Air Quality: Partnering to Protect Human Health, and Energy Conservation and Indoor Air Quality: Lessons From the Past Have Relevance for the Future, are recommended reading to gain a valuable perspective on the interdependence of IAQ and energy conservation and the benefits of considering them as primary and complementary goals for healthy indoor environments. All three white papers are available free of charge from the Aerias-AQS Indoor Air Quality Resource Center at www.aerias.org, Premium Content tab / White Papers.

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