Project Description

Healthy Zero Energy Buildings (HZEB)

The objective of this research program is to develop new science-based commercial building ventilation standards to achieve good indoor air quality and in an energy efficient manner. Our program includes four research studies where we will collect data of building ventilation rates, indoor air quality, and human outcomes for this purpose. Information generated will be analyzed to evaluate the impacts of ventilation on controlling indoor contaminant levels, their influence on human outcomes, and energy implications.

Indoor Air Quality Procedure for Big-Box Stores

Commercial buildings have the option of following the Indoor Air Quality Procedure (IAQP) in ASHRAE Standard 62.1 to calculate the minimum ventilation rates. This study will help the California Energy Commission to decide if and how an air-quality based option like the IAQP should be incorporated into California's Title 24 ventilation rate standards. This assessment will be conducted in a big-box store. We will also periodically adjust the store's ventilation rate and collect data over several weeks, including contaminant concentrations and human responses of recruited panelists.

[See publication]

Contaminant Levels and Source Strengths in Retail Stores

The purpose of this study is to estimate the whole-building contaminant source strengths in retail stores. This data is needed to determine the ventilation rates necessary to maintain acceptable or better indoor air quality according to health standards and guideline levels. We will measure contaminant concentrations and ventilation rates in several store types: grocery, apparel, home improvement, furniture, and hardware. Approximately 8 to 10 stores of each type will be included in the study from different areas of California.

Respiratory Infections and Illness Absence in Office Buildings

This study will collect data in tens of California office buildings to estimate the associations between CO2 concentrations and ventilation rates, with both respiratory illness episodes and illness-related work absence. Prior research suggests that inadequate ventilation may lead to an increase in short-term absence among office workers. We will measure CO2, temperature, and relative humidity for at least a year within each study space. We will collect occupants' responses on web-based surveys, and obtain group-level data on illness absence from employers when possible.

Impact of Ventilation Rates on Human Outcomes in a Chamber Study

Current ventilation standards for commercial buildings set the minimum required rate on some combinations of number of occupant and floor area. This study will measure separately the benefits of increasing ventilation rates on a per occupant and per unit floor area basis under controlled laboratory conditions. We will use web-based surveys to assess perceived air quality and intensity of building-related symptoms. In addition, study subject's performance in decision making will be measured using the strategic management simulation (SMS) program. The experiment is designed to provide data relevant to ventilation requirements in offices.

[See publication]