BPIE publishes study on indoor air quality, thermal comfort and daylight

In March 2015, the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) published a study covering three important issues of relevance to buildings, namely indoor air quality, thermal comfort and daylight.  On this basis, the report analyses regulations in eight EU Member States (Belgium [Brussels region], Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the UK [England & Wales]).

Given that citizens spend an average of 60-90% of their lifetime indoors, these three issues are clearly of importance to our daily lives.  In terms of regulation at EU level, the report indicates that the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD, 2010/31/EU) clearly states that minimum energy performance requirements “shall take account of general indoor climate conditions, in order to avoid possible negative effects such as inadequate ventilation”.  However, the question is how do today's building codes address these issues, what can ne identified as best practice and does the legislation need to be improved.  The report suggests that by ensuring that indoor air quality and other aspects of indoor climate are treated with the same level of importance as energy efficiency, this  will enable energy renovation and comfort enhancement investments to be "mutually reinforcing".

According to the authors, all of the building codes assessed recognise the importanc of indoor air quality.  In this respect, minimum ventilation rates are covered by all, although the minimum requirements do vary from one MS to another.  In terms of airtighness, here the requirements differ largely accross the EU.  When it comes to thermal comfort, building codes tackle the issue of low temperatures by improving the energy performance of a building.  Nevertheless, there is an issue with overheating which also needs to be addressed.  In this respect, a limited number of MS do have limitations on overheating in place. As well as assessing building codes in thes 8 MS, the report provides a series of recomendations.  These include affording greater consideration to indoor health and comfort aspects in building codes, as well as incorporating approriate requirements to ensure proper indoor air quality, daylight and thermal comfort. 

Concrete is a construction product which offers a high level of indoor air quality and thermal comfort. Thanks to its thermal mass, it offers improved thermal comfort and is a particularly effective solution to combat overheating. Thermal mass can contribute very effectively to passive measures to improve buildings’ energy efficiency, without recourse to mechanical installations. It is clear that more could be done to take advantage of these benefits in European legislation. The report recommends that “the use of building mass, natural and night time ventilation strategies, etc. have to be further covered within national and European legislation.”

More information: Report

Tags: indoor air quality, thermal comfort

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