The AIA Housing and Community Development Knowledge Community (HCD) is a network of architects and allied stakeholders that promotes equity in housing, excellence in residential design, and sustainable, vibrant communities for all, through education, research, awards, and advocacy.
Much of human exposure to outdoor air pollution often occurs indoors, particularly in residences where people spend most of their time. This presentation will highlight recent research exploring the impacts of two important influences on indoor concentrations of outdoor particulate matter in residential buildings: building envelopes and central HVAC systems and filters. In these measurements, the infiltration of outdoor particulate matter was shown to be predicted with reasonable accuracy using results from simple blower door air leakage tests. Also, the removal of indoor particles increased systematically with higher efficiency HVAC filters. Overall, these results suggest that occupants of older and leakier homes are exposed to much higher indoor concentrations of outdoor particles than those in newer and tighter homes. Additionally, the use of higher efficiency HVAC filters can have a large impact on reducing exposures. These data suggest that an occupant’s indoor exposure to outdoor air pollution can vary by a factor of more than 60, depending on building design and construction.
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