Article Date: 09/06/2013

In the Campaign to Achieve the Best Balance between Energy Efficiency and IEQ, Could Significant Action Be Coming Soon?

By Steve Rizer


What ought to be done to ensure the best balance between indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and energy efficiency in high-performance buildings? A conference slated to begin next month in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, could yield some significant progress toward answering this age-old question … if some recent comments prove to be prophetic. 


“There are not a lot of data on IEQ in high-performance buildings, but this conference [‘IAQ 2013, Environmental Health in Low-Energy Buildings,’ scheduled for Oct. 15-18] will bring the collective knowledge of the industry together to set a benchmark, if you will, on where we are and how we should move forward,” Conference Co-Chairperson Hal Levin said. “It will be important in identifying critical gaps in our knowledge and potential priorities for future ASHRAE [American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers] research, standards, and guidelines.”


For the conference, “the state of knowledge” on this subject will be summarized in written “topic overviews” for inclusion in the proceedings of the event. These overviews may include comments on papers in the sessions, provide supplemental information, summarize “the state of the art,” offer suggestions for high-priority research, or make recommendations to ASHRAE about implementation of energy conservation and IEQ design activities, according to conference organizers.


Among the papers being submitted to the conference is “Indoor Air Quality in High-Performing Building Case Studies: A Wealth of Intent; A Dearth of Data,” co-authored by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Senior Science Advisor Kevin Teichman as well as Andrew Persily and Steve Emmerich, both mechanical engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


“While progress has been made in achieving sustainable, high-performance buildings, it is noteworthy that many discussions of green, high-performing, and certainly net-zero energy buildings tend to focus on energy consumption,” Teichman said. “Energy is critically important, but [it] is only one aspect of performance and should not be pursued to the neglect of the others.”


The conference features papers and presentations for inclusion in the following nine tracks: environmental health in low-energy buildings; moisture and health; sources and chemistry; IEQ factor interactions; residential buildings; commercial and institutional buildings; air cleaning and filtration; microorganisms and infection; and tools (models, measurements, among other things).


The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article reports on additional IEQ-related developments from ASHRAE and the Building Performance Institute. To sign up for a membership, click here.



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