Ten questions concerning green buildings and indoor air quality

Anne Steinemann, Pawel Wargocki, Behzad Rismanchi

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    This paper investigates the concern that green buildings may promote energy efficiency and other aspects of sustainability, but not necessarily the health and well-being of occupants through better indoor air quality (IAQ). We ask ten questions to explore IAQ challenges for green buildings as well as opportunities to improve IAQ within green buildings and their programs. Our focus is on IAQ, while recognizing that many factors influence human health and the healthfulness of a building. We begin with an overview of green buildings, IAQ, and whether and how green building certifications address IAQ. Next, we examine evidence on whether green buildings have better IAQ than comparable conventional buildings. Then, we identify so-called green practices and green products that can have unintended and unfavorable effects on IAQ. Looking ahead, we offer both immediate and longer-term actions, and a set of research questions, that can help green buildings to more effectively promote IAQ. This article supports a growing recognition of the importance of IAQ in green buildings, and the opportunities for improvements. As the World Green Building Council [95] and others have emphasized, people are the most valuable asset of organizations, and efforts to improve IAQ can improve health, well-being, productivity, and profitability.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBuilding and Environment
    Pages (from-to)351-358
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Green buildings
    • Indoor air quality
    • Energy efficiency
    • Health
    • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
    • Semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs)


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