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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Benefits and Costs of Improved IEQ in U.S. Offices

  • Author(s): Fisk, William J.
  • et al.

This paper estimates some of the benefits and costs of implementing scenarios that improve indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in the stock of U.S. office buildings. The scenarios include increasing ventilation rates when they are below 10 or 15 L/s per person, adding outdoor-air economizers and controls when absent, eliminating winter indoor temperatures greater than 23 oC, and reducing dampness and mold problems. The estimated benefits of the scenarios analyzed are substantial in magnitude, including increased work performance, reduced sick building syndrome symptoms, reduced absence, and improved thermal comfort for millions of office workers. The combined potential annual economic benefit of a set ofnon-overlapping scenarios is approximately $20 billion. While the quantitative estimates have a high uncertainty, the opportunity for substantial benefits is clear. Some IEQ improvement measures will save energy while improving health or productivity, and implementing these measures should be the highest priority.

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