Economics of Indoor Air Quality
Buildings represent a major end use of energy throughout the world and are typically the dominant sector for electricity. The use of that energy is to provide buildings services, the most important of which is Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ). Heating and air conditioning systems typically handle the thermal comfort aspects of IEQ; the energy impacts and economics of such systems is well studied. The most important remaining aspect of IEQ is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). IAQ combines health aspects odour and moisture but is typically not represented by a health-based performance metric. As a result, ventilation rates are used as a surrogate for IAQ. Recent research has developed “Smart Ventilation” technologies that economically optimize ventilation by considering utility rate structures, exposure to outdoor contaminants, as well as peak loads and total energy demand. Enabling this optimization of Smart Ventilation requires IAQ performance metrics that can be monetized. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and others have used Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) to quantify health impacts of contaminant exposure, which shows IAQ may be a critical economic driver. This paper reviews these general concepts and presents some of the most recent work we have done on both Smart Ventilation and economic metrics for IAQ.