Integration of Indoor Air Quality to the Life Cycle Assessment of Buildings

Rachna Bhoonah*, Alice Maury-Micolier, Olivier Jolliet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Pollutants - gases or particles - are emitted in indoor air by different sources such as building materials, furniture, occupants and their activities. Spending over 80 % of our time indoors, we are directly exposed to substances that are potentially harmful to our health. Through measurements and simulation tools, the concentrations of these substances in air can be evaluated. However, today, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is not taken into account in the Life Cycle Assessment of buildings (LCA). The aim of this study is to calculate and compare the damage of IAQ on occupants' health with the damage over the whole building life cycle, expressed in the same unit as in LCA: Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALY), in order to propose a decision-making tool. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted by building materials or furniture and then are assimilated by occupants. A model describing their emissions including unknown or uncertain parameters is calibrated using existing emission data. Secondly, emission data on occupants and their activities are used to simulate indoor concentrations of VOCs. The assimilation and consequent health damages are then calculated. According to a case study of an office, health damages related to the emissions of gypsum-covered walls were of 1.32 x 10-6 DALY.year-1, about 2 orders of magnitude lower than those of the other life stages of the building (from fabrication and transport of products, construction, use, until end-of-life processes) which correspond to 1.2 to 4.5 x 10-3 DALY.year-1. Those related to regular office activities were of 3.7 x 10-26 DALY.year-1. This methodology can help in eco-design of buildings by identifying main sources of impacts. It can help to choose between materials or to dimension the ventilation for the evacuation of pollutants.
Original languageEnglish
Article number012084
JournalIOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science
Volume1196
Issue number1
Number of pages13
ISSN1755-1307
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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