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What is IEQ?

Many of us have adapted to the indoor realm as our "natural" environment. IEQ encompasses indoor air quality IAQ , which focuses on airborne contaminants, as well as other health, safety, and comfort issues such as aesthetics, potable water surveillance, ergonomics, acoustics, lighting, and electromagnetic frequency levels. IEQ improvements to an existing building can occur at any point during the use of a building. The Thoreau Institute of Sustainability at the Presidio, in San Francisco, California has been a model of green building operations and community programming since it opened in Prevention of mold and fungi is dependent upon effective HVAC and building envelope design and construction.

The HVAC system must be able to control interior humidity throughout a wide range of outdoor conditions. The building envelope must be carefully designed to prevent intrusion of water and to dry if intrusion should occur. It must also incorporate barriers that control vapor and air infiltration. Electromagnetic fields EMF are generated by forces associated with electric charges in motion, and by microwaves, radio waves, electrical currents, and transformers. EMF are thought to cause cancer, however there is currently insufficient evidence to prove this. There are no federal standards limiting occupational or residential exposure to EMF at this time, only various U.

The Southeast Asian Network of Ergonomics Societies SEANES has introduced ergonomic checkpoints for indoor and outdoor workplaces for the purpose of motivating workers to recognize hazards in the work environment and adopt precautionary measures accordingly [ 24 ]. Electromagnetic field is created by moving electric charges, microwaves, radio waves, electrical currents, and transformers. The low-frequency electromagnetic radiation prevailing mostly in indoors due to electrical appliances, computers, wireless devices, etc. The possibility of health hazards such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children due to electromagnetic field exposure was well established decades ago [ 28 ] and continues to be a significant topic of research [ 26 , 29 , 30 , 31 ].

Adequate, safe, and accessible supply of drinking water is vital for the sustenance of human life especially in indoor environments where access to natural sources of water such as wells, ponds, rivers, and lakes is limited. Drinking water quality has a direct impact on human health.

Infants, young children, weak and elderly people, and those who live in unhygienic environment are largely prone to waterborne deceases [ 32 ]. There is no universally applicable legislative framework for the implementation of standards to maintain drinking water quality. An approach that works in one country or region may not be suitable for other countries. Therefore, each country should develop its own legislation according to its requirements and capacity for implementation.

However, while developing standards, the most common aspects that need to be taken into account are microbial safety, chemical safety, radiological safety, disinfection, and acceptability [ 32 ]. Many researchers have compiled them in their review articles [ 7 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 ]. However, a brief overview of the exemplary researches is presented here.

In these researches, the findings are usually compared with the prevailing local or global as applicable standards, and recommendations are made to address the issues identified.

Indoor Environmental Quality and Sustainability - FMLink

The measurements included endotoxin, total bioaerosols, and psychosocial parameters. The study identified five factors that significantly affected the office productivity, which are layout, air quality, thermal comfort, lighting, and acoustic comfort, where the acoustic comfort had the maximum impact. In a similar study [ 45 ], experiments were performed on the effect of indoor temperature on the IEQ user perception and productivity in office buildings, by choosing 9 females and 12 males. The parameters measured were air temperature, globe temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide CO 2 concentration, and lighting and noise comforts.

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The indoor air temperature was varied by keeping the other IEQ parameters fixed. It was shown that the thermal environment had a significant impact on the thermal comfort and other IEQ factors. Almeida and De Freitas [ 55 ] performed onsite measurements of temperature, relative humidity, CO 2 concentration, and ventilation rates in the classrooms of nine retrofitted and non-retrofitted school buildings in Portugal. The measurements were done during winter, mid-season, and summer conditions. In their observations, the non-retrofitted schools lack in the desired IEQ level, while retrofitted buildings did not have mechanical ventilation systems.

The empirical model developed by using the data collected from occupants from 32 residential buildings was useful to assess the acceptance level in terms of operative temperature, CO 2 concentration, and acoustic and lighting comforts. The study revealed that both thermal and acoustic comforts were the decisive contributors, while IAQ was the least.

As already mentioned, the IEQ level of sustainable and green buildings has been a concern of many researchers. The studied parameters were indoor temperature, relative humidity, vertical temperature distribution, air velocity, predicted mean vote PMV , radiant temperature, outdoor temperature, and humidity. An online survey was also conducted among the occupants to know their perception on the IEQ level.

They found that the building was performing low with regard to thermal comfort, ventilation, and ability to control indoor the environment. Indoor environmental quality is a very important scientific domain that deals with various aspects that govern the health, comfort, and productivity of the occupants and determine the value of a building.

However, even though there is increasing awareness on the demand for sustainable, green, and high-performance buildings, ensuring the desired level of IEQ is often not given the deserving care.

Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

Consequently, most of the sustainable and green buildings lack in complying with the IEQ requirements. The building owners should rewrite their mindset to take into account the enormous potential for monetary returns and health benefits through improving the IEQ of the building.


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The following good practices are generally recommended to ensure a comfortable level of IEQ: Follow scientific practices of design, construction, renovation, operation, and maintenance, in compliance with the international standards. Enhance the esthetics and indoor environment by proper integration of natural and man-made facilities. Minimize the dependence of artificial lighting and electrical equipment such as air conditioner, elevator, and fans, with a view to improve human health and minimize energy consumption.

Facilitate proper ventilation and maintain acceptable air quality, by following standard guidelines. Adopt proper design and maintenance of HVAC system, and proper design and construction of the envelope, to prevent mold, fungi, airborne bacteria, and radon. Minimize the spread of pathogens by minimizing exposure to washrooms and by proper maintenance procedures.

Avoid using products and materials, which contain harmful ingredients such as formaldehyde and produce harmful emissions. Ensure noise comfort and privacy, by suitably adopting the materials for walls, floors, and ceiling, and other standard means for acoustic comfort. Avoid unpleasant odors through selective use of products, regular and safe waste disposal, careful selection of cleaning products, isolation of contaminants, prohibition of smoking, and related measures. Establish a comfortable and healthy indoor lighting, through optimum integration of artificial and natural lightings, and use of energy-efficient, user-friendly, and eco-friendly artificial lighting.

Maintain availability and accessibility of safe and clean drinking water in compliance with the water quality standards. Restrict and be aware of exposure to electromagnetic field and radiation, in the indoor environment. Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3. Help us write another book on this subject and reach those readers. Login to your personal dashboard for more detailed statistics on your publications.

Edited by Muhammad Abdul Mujeebu. Edited by Mahmoud Al-Qutayri. We are IntechOpen, the world's leading publisher of Open Access books.

Built by scientists, for scientists. Our readership spans scientists, professors, researchers, librarians, and students, as well as business professionals. Downloaded: Indoor air quality Indoor air quality IAQ , which depends on airborne contaminants inside a building or in a broader sense, any other enclosure such as a vehicle or an animal house , is one of the crucial factors that determine the quality of the indoor environment.

Lighting comfort Visible light falls in a narrow range in the electromagnetic spectrum, between ultraviolet and infrared wavelength ranges.

1. Overview

Acoustic comfort Building acoustics deals with controlling the quality of sound inside a building. Ergonomics Ergonomics deals with the design of objects, systems, and environment, in a manner that ensures human comfort. Electromagnetic field and radiation Electromagnetic field is created by moving electric charges, microwaves, radio waves, electrical currents, and transformers. Water quality Adequate, safe, and accessible supply of drinking water is vital for the sustenance of human life especially in indoor environments where access to natural sources of water such as wells, ponds, rivers, and lakes is limited.