The term “air quality” often conjures up images of smog-filled cities, but it is actually the air in your home that presents the greatest risk to your health. Let’s explore some of the most common obstacles to breathing clean air when indoors and how building a green home can help you overcome them.
Typical Indoor Air Quality Problems
Many different factors can affect the air quality in your home. Some of the most common contributors to indoor air pollutants include:
Building materials and furnishings that off-gas
Excess moisture that causes mold and mildew
Household cleaners and air fresheners
Outdoor air pollutants such as pesticides and allergens
Air infiltration from unconditioned spaces like basements and garages
What does poor indoor air quality mean for you and your family? The consequences range from the inconvenience of unwanted odors to significant health issues like asthma and other respiratory diseases.
Not every pollutant can be identified with an odor (carbon monoxide and radon, for example), so it’s important to be proactive about the air quality in your home. Fortunately, most indoor air quality issues in new homes are avoidable with proper construction techniques that include air sealing and providing adequate ventilation.
Air Sealing in a Green Home
Older homes were built with the assumption that there would be enough air flow through gaps in the window frames, door frames, and other spaces to provide ample ventilation. Even modern conventionally-built homes use construction techniques based on this theory, which means that many brand new homes are leaky.
In contrast, the green home construction process requires careful sealing of all these gaps for three important reasons, which are to:
Reduce energy consumption by preventing heated or cooled air from escaping
Prevent unwanted pollutants and moisture from entering the home
Allow a ventilation system to control the source and flow of fresh air
Since we’re focusing on air quality, let’s take a deeper dive into the ventilation.
Ventilation in a Green Home
Without ventilation, air pollutants can build up in your home and potentially cause health problems. Natural ventilation occurs when you open your windows, but this isn’t practical during a New England winter. In a green home that is tightly sealed, controlled ventilation is achieved through mechanical systems that essentially act as the home’s lungs and serve three purposes:
1. To provide clean, freshly filtered air
2. To remove air pollutants
3. To remove excess humidity
Do conventionally-built leaky homes get enough natural ventilation through gaps in walls and window frames? Maybe, but those gaps also create cold drafts and bump up your heating bill. You also don’t know where that “fresh” air is coming from (The garage? The busy street out front?) and it’s not filtered, so how healthy is it? Mechanical ventilation ensures that you get enough fresh air and that stale, potentially contaminated air is purged on a regular basis.
In a BrightBuilt Home, you can breathe clean air all year long. With super tight air sealing and a ventilation system designed to continuously circulate fresh air without losing heat, your home will be both comfortable and healthy.
Want to learn more about this important topic? The EPA has some great information about indoor air quality. If you’re planning to build a new home and want to breathe clean air, contact BrightBuilt Home today to schedule a free consultation.