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Environmental Health in Low Energy Buildings Topic Overview



Steven J. Emmerich, Hal Levin


Besides providing thermal comfort and acceptable indoor environmental quality (IEQ), the designers of buildings and other enclosed spaces are increasingly challenged to provide a healthy environment in an energy efficient manner. Increasing pressure to reduce energy consumption has come from those concerned about building energy use as a major factor in anthropogenic carbon dioxide releases to the atmosphere and the steadily growing average global greenhouse gas concentrations. (IPCC 2007; California Energy Commission, 2011). Building energy efficiency is regarded as the “low-hanging fruit” in human efforts to reduce human contributions to global atmospheric carbon dioxide and its role in global climate change. The complex relationship between indoor and outdoor environmental conditions, coupled with the impacts of climate change, requires a new focus on creating buildings that are comfortable and healthy for the occupants yet also energy efficient. While most of the recent attention has focused on energy efficiency, others within the building community as well as researchers and regulators have continued to focus on the need to avoid energy efficiency measures that adversely affect indoor environmental quality and occupant health and well-being (Fisk et al, 2002; Levin, 2007; IOM, 2011; Levin and Phillips, 2013; Teichman, et al. 2013) Although the goal of improved IAQ and thermal comfort can be achieved by increasing energy consumption, it can also be achieved without significant increase or even with decreased energy consumption (Levin and Teichman 1991; Persily and Emmerich 2012). The goal of this paper is to present an overview of efforts to improve energy efficiency in buildings while still ensuring healthy, comfortable and safe indoor environments and the related technical challenges.
Proceedings Title
Conference Dates
October 15-18, 2013
Conference Location


environmental health, indoor air quality, sustainable buildings, green buildings


Emmerich, S. and Levin, H. (2014), Environmental Health in Low Energy Buildings Topic Overview, ASHRAE IAQ 2013, Vancouver, -1, [online], (Accessed June 18, 2024)


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Created February 11, 2014, Updated February 19, 2017