Why indoor air quality is more important than ever
Cough, sneezes, allergies, drowsiness, itchy eyes, respiratory problems. Our indoor air quality has come under the spotlight like never before as we spend more time inside and issues such ventilation and clean air become increasingly important.
Even prior to the crisis, we spent 90% of our time indoors. Now that time has increased and air quality challenges remain — with pollutants from outside, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from building materials, furnishings, cleaning products, paints and mould continuing to be a cause for concern.
As the US Environmental Protection Agency has pointed out: “Concentrations of some pollutants indoors are often two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. And that is not good for our health. The World Health Organisation has linked poor indoor air quality to pneumonia, strokes, heart disease and pulmonary problems as well as asthma, the most common non-communicable disease among children.
So what can we do about this? Well, some countries such as Belgium, Germany and France have mandatory regulation of VOCs in building products. For example, rating them from A+ to C class in France.
In other countries there are voluntary initiatives such M1 in Finland and the Indoor Climate Label in Denmark as well as air quality initiatives for schools such as the Greenguard Gold Certificate in the US and mandatory indoor air quality monitoring in facilities for children under six, recreation centres, elementary schools, colleges and high schools.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has also climbed up international policy agendas with the European Commission now working on a harmonised European classification for VOC emissions from construction products and materials.
Call for IAQ certificates for buildings
Indoor air quality has already been added to the Commission’s Level(s) framework which measures the sustainability — and impact on well-being — of buildings and makes that information easily accessible.
“The principle purpose… of the strategy is to provide building occupants with healthy air… filter out harmful pollutants… prevent humidity and pollutants from indoor materials or activities… and focus on materials that minimise or avoid at source harmful emissions into the indoor air,” says the Commission.
In addition, as part of a 2019 package of ‘Clean Air For All’ proposals to tackle air pollution, the European Parliament has called for a compulsory indoor air quality certificate for all new and renovated buildings based on EN 16798-1 standards and WHO guidelines.
Policymakers are not alone in their quest for better indoor air quality. An increasing number of new Green Building Rating Systems are including air quality in their long lists of ‘well-being criteria’ and adding credits for good indoor air.
Established players such as BREEAM, LEED and DGNB are placing emphasis on indoor air quality, while newer systems, such as WELL are pushing interior well-being boundaries even further. Living Building Challenge and the DECLARE label, for example, insist on only using materials that do not contain any chemicals on the Red List — a list of substances designated as harmful.
How Knauf Insulation can help
When it comes to indoor air quality, Knauf Insulation can help.
As far back as 2009 we recognised the importance of indoor air quality when we launched our first range of Mineral Wool with ECOSE Technology® a revolutionary bio-based binder.
We were the first company to be awarded Eurofins Indoor Air Comfort Gold for our ECOSE solutions. Indoor Air Comfort Gold is regarded as Europe’s most comprehensive label for verifying low product emissions of VOCs. The certification combines all mandatory European regulations, a large number of voluntary labels on VOC emissions and VOC requirements for LEED, WELL and BREEAM. It is also the only standard recognised by DGNB which states “IAQ remains an all-or-nothing factor”.
Our online factsheets show how our solutions credits can be achieved in Green Building Rating Systems.
Meanwhile, in Europe our Supafil Blowing Wool is Red List-free and both our Mineral Wool with ECOSE and Heraklith Wood Wool are certified to the demanding indoor air quality standards of Germany’s Federal Blue Angel eco-label.
To learn how Knauf Insulation solutions can help you earn more Green Building Rating System points — including for Indoor Air Quality — request one of our LEED, BREEAM, DGNB or WELL documents below.
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