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Title: Pilot Implementation of a Field Study Design to Evaluate the Impact of Source Control Measures on Indoor Air Quality in High Performance Homes

To improve the indoor air quality in new, high performance homes, a variety of standards and rating programs have been introduced to identify building materials that are designed to have lower emission rates of key contaminants of concern and a number of building materials are being introduced that are certified to these standards. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home program requires certification under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Indoor airPLUS (IaP) label, which requires the use of PS1 or PS2 certified plywood and OSB; low-formaldehyde emitting wood products; low- or no-VOC paints and coatings as certified by Green Seal Standard GS-11, GreenGuard, SCS Indoor Advantage Gold Standard, MPI Green Performance Standard, or another third party rating program; and Green Label-certified carpet and carpet cushions. However, little is known regarding the efficacy of the IAP requirements in measurably reducing contaminant exposures in homes. The goal of this project is to develop a robust experimental approach and collect preliminary data to support the evaluation of indoor air quality (IAQ) measures linked to IAP-approved low-emitting materials and finishes in new residential homes. To this end, the research team of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Lawrencemore » Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) developed a detailed experimental plan to measure IAQ constituents and other parameters, over time, in new homes constructed with materials compliant with IAP’s low-emitting material and ventilation requirements (i.e., section 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, and 7.2) and similar homes constructed to the state building code with conventional materials. The IAQ in IAP and conventional homes of similar age, location, and construction style is quantified as the differences in the speciated VOC and aldehyde concentrations, normalized to dilution rates. The experimental plan consists of methods to evaluate the difference between low-emitting and “conventional” materials as installed in newly constructed residential homes using both (1) highly controlled, short-term active samples to precisely characterize the building-related chemical emissions and building contents and (2) a week-long passive sample designed to capture the impact of occupant behavior and related activities on measured IAQ contaminant levels indoors. The combination of detailed short-term measurements with the home under controlled/consistent conditions during pre- and post-occupancy and the week-long passive sampling data provide the opportunity to begin to separate the different emission sources and help isolate and quantify variability in the monitored homes. Between April and August 2014, the research team performed pre-occupancy and post-occupancy sampling in one conventional home and two homes built with low-emitting materials that were generally consistent with EPA’s Indoor airPLUS guidelines. However, for a number of reasons, the full experimental plan was not implemented. The project was intended to continue for up to three years to asses long-term changes in IAQ but the project was limited to one calendar year. As a result, several of the primary research questions related to seasonal impacts and the long-term trends in IAQ could not be addressed. In addition, there were several unexpected issues related to recruiting, availability of home types, and difficulty coordinating with builders/realtors/homeowners. Several field monitoring issues also came up that provide “lessons learned” that led to improvements to the original monitoring plan. The project produced a good experimental plan that is expected to be be useful for future efforts collecting data to support answering these same or similar research questions.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States