Pollutant control strategies for acceptable indoor air quality and energy efficiency in retail buildings

Date

2013-12

Authors

Zaatari, Marwa

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Abstract

Indoor air is associated with substantial health risks and is estimated to be responsible for the loss of over 4.7 million healthy life years (years lost due to morbidity and mortality) annually in the U.S. The highest indoor air-related health benefits can be expected from policies and strategies that efficiently target pollutants having the greatest contribution to the burden of disease. This burden is caused by indoor sources as well as by outdoor pollutants transported to the indoors. The diversity of pollutants, pollutant sources, and the resulting health effects challenge the comparison of the impacts of different control strategies on energy consumption and indoor air quality. To address this challenge, this work presents a quantitative framework for reaching the optimal energy cost for the maximum achieved exposure benefits, specifically for retail buildings and their understudied energy, economic, and health risk influence. The main objectives of this dissertation are to 1) determine pollutants of concern in retail buildings that contribute the greatest to the burden of disease, and 2) determine energy-efficient, exposure-based control strategies for different retail types and locations. The research in this dissertation is divided into four specific aims that fulfill these two objectives. The first specific aim (Specific aim 1.a) addresses Objective 1 by applying available disease impact models on pollutant concentrations taken from 15 literature studies (150 stores, a total of 34 pollutants). Of those pollutants, there was little data reported on particulate matter (PM) concentrations and none on emission rates for PM, limiting our understanding of exposure to this pollutant. The second specific aim (Specific aim 1.b) also addresses Objective 1 by characterizing particulate matter (PM) concentrations, emission rates, and fate of ambient and indoor-generated particles in retail buildings. The tasks of this specific aim consisted of particulate matter and ventilation measurements in 14 retail buildings. Among the findings of Objective 1, PM2.5 and acrolein are the main contaminants of concern for which control methods should be prioritized, contributing to 160 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs; years lost due to premature mortality and disability) per 100,000 persons annually. Employees in grocery stores mainly drove this burden. An efficient indoor exposure reduction strategy should take into account all mechanisms that influence pollutant concentrations: indoor and outdoor sources (highlighting the importance of retail type and location), infiltration, ventilation, and filtration. The remaining specific aims address Objective 2 by investigating the energy and air quality impact of two commonly used exposure control scenarios, ventilation (Specific aim 2.a) and filtration (Specific aim 2.b). The tasks of Specific aim 2.a consisted of modeling the impact of multiple ventilation strategies on contaminants of concern for six major U.S. cities and two retail types. The tasks for Specific aim 2.b consisted of conducting field measurements on 15 rooftop units to determine the fan energy impacts of filter pressure drop. These results are used in combination with a large dataset of 75 filters commonly installed in commercial buildings to estimate the energy consequences of filtration. Results for Objective 2 are presented from the quantitative comparison of the impact on energy usage and DALYs lost of three main approaches: (1) adjusting ventilation only; (2) adjusting filtration only; and (3) adjusting ventilation and filtration together. All approaches were able to provide substantial reductions in the health risks (19-26% decrease in DALYs lost); the magnitude of the reductions depended on the ventilation/filtration scenario, the retail type, and the city. The magnitude of energy cost to achieve the maximum health benefits depended on the city and the retail type (for example for a 10,000 m2 grocery store, the energy cost ranged from $1,100 for the annual cost of filtration energy in Los Angeles to $24,000 for the annual cost of ventilation in Austin). The uncertainties of the estimates driving these findings are discussed throughout the results section. The finding that emerges from this analysis is the pollutant exposure control ventilation (PECV) strategy. This strategy is superior to the ventilation rate procedure (VRP; ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2010) and the indoor air quality procedure (IAQP; ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2010) as it decides on a range of ventilation rates by weighing the exposures of contaminants of concern found in retail buildings. Then, among the range of ventilation rates identified, the PECV recommends the optimal ventilation rate that leads to energy usage savings in the climate considered. Overall, the work presented here prioritizes specific contaminants of concern in retail buildings and proposes an exposure-based, energy-efficient control strategy for different retail types and locations. Policy makers, engineers, and building owners can use these results to decide amongst appropriate control strategies that will lead to minimum energy consumption and, at the same time, will not compromise occupant health. This work can be repeated for different types of buildings, notably for residences, schools, and offices where abundant information is available on both pollutant concentrations and ventilation rates, but where information is lacking on how to optimize the control strategies for better indoor air quality.

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