The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released new guidelines for energy efficiency upgrades and indoor air quality (IAQ) improvements in schools.

The document, Energy Savings Plus Health: Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for School Building Upgrades, “covers 23 specific priority issues and addresses com­mon contaminants associated with building upgrades and critical building systems that affect IAQ.”

These guidelines can be applied to all indoor environments, not just schools.

What Does This Really Mean?

While most people agree that improving energy efficiency is important, care must be taken not to use products or practices that negatively impact IAQ during or after energy efficiency upgrades. Often, IAQ is reduced as a result of construction, even energy efficient upgrades.

Some building materials contain harmful chemicals and off-gassing, and breakdown over time can release these chemicals into the air we breathe. Construction dust can reduce IAQ, as well.

Why Indoor Air Quality Matters

Studies have shown that poor indoor air quality results in increased illness, decreased attention span, focus, learning, and productivity. These results hold true regardless of the type of indoor environment: home, school, office, etc.

Just like clean water, nutritious food, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep are essential to a healthy lifestyle, so is clean air. The population as a whole is spending an increasing amount of time indoors: as much as 90% or more time for many people. In many cases, indoor air has become more polluted as homes and buildings become more energy efficient and airtight.

For more information, check out our posts on How to Improve Indoor Air Quality and How Poor Air Quality Affects Your Health, or refer to our complete IAQ resources.

How Branch Environmental Can Help

Don’t wait until you have an IAQ problem to do something about it. You too can help prevent IAQ problems! Contact Branch Environmental today to schedule an IAQ inspection, for assistance in developing a strategy to maintain high IAQ during your next remodeling project or simply to discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding IAQ.