What is Sustainable Building?
A more specific definition of sustainability in a design context has been developed by
the State of California:
"...to design, deconstruct, construct, renovate, operate, and maintain buildings that are life
cycle effective, providing healthy, productive and comfortable indoor environments and
Many new and renovated homes cause occupants to experience temporary ill-health symptoms while others develop permanent ill effects and chemical sensitivities referred to as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or Environmental Illness (EI).
IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality).
Involves the six inherent qualities within a buildings interior, including daylight (with dual benefits of higher occupant health and lower energy usage), acoustic and thermal comfort, good indoor air quality, occupant controls and good ergonomics.
IAQ (Indoor Air Quality)
can vary from relatively non-toxic to highly toxic as measured by the chemical, particulate, or biological contaminants in the air. Indoor air toxins are usually from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Quality is often measured and evaluated based on employee absence, sick leave and productivity losses.
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
Organic compounds are the basis of all living things.They contain carbon as the principal element.There are several million known compounds.Those which are Volatile Organic Compounds are chemical compounds which vaporize at room temperature. Some VOCs are known or suspected carcinogens (cancer causing) or cause other mild to severe adverse health affects.
TVOC (Total Volatile Organic Compounds)
are the accumulated sum of emissions from many VOCs such as in a material or within an interior.
Outgas or Offgas
the process of the vaporizing (or evaporation) of VOCs released from a material.
the regenerative recycling process of a product where at the end of its useful life, it is biodegraded (composted), or recycled back into manufacturing production (preferably into a similar product without significant deterioration of quality such as steel, aluminum, glass and nylon 6).
Sick Building Syndrome and related terms, Building Related Illness, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity [MCS], and Environmental Illness [EI]
these are all terms related to the resulting affects that offgassing toxic VOCs have been known to have on building occupants. Common complaints include, but certainly are not limited to:
eye and upper respiratory irritation
organic brain syndrome (foggy and often forgetful brain)
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 30% of buildings experience some kind of sick building syndrome problems. EPAstates that health risks from indoor air are 2 to 5 times the risk of outdoor air, costs us $1.5 billion in medical bills and $60 billion in lost productivity.
This term was coined in 1991 at a conference chaired by Theo Colburn, co-author of 'Our Stolen Future' and then with the World Wildlife Fund. The term refers to environmental chemicals that disrupt the development of the endocrine system, the effects of exposure to which are permanent. The term was introduced into the scientific literature with her 1993 paper, Developmental Effects of Endocrine-disrupting Chemicals in Wildlife and Humans.'