Human health and the indoor environment : an analysis of building materials and sustainable architecture




Esslinger, Grace Elizabeth

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In our modern industrial world, humans have migrated from the outdoors to indoor environments. Americans on average spend 93% of their time indoors and indoor air quality is a top threat to human health according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While energy reduction is often the most well-known aspect of sustainable design, human health is also significant because of our indoor lifestyles. One aspect of sustainable design is the selection of building materials that are safe for both humans and the environment. The lifecycle of a building product is important, but the lifecycle of humans should also be a design priority. This thesis explores the relationship between indoor environmental quality and building materials and aims to address points in architecture that are beneficial for human health and the indoor environment. Since the indoor environment is influenced by a variety of factors, there are many areas for opportunity. While healthy homes do exist, most homes in America are made using materials that may pose risks to human health. This thesis addresses which methods of sustainability are most appropriate to meet the current demands of new construction. As humans continue to spend more time indoors, the importance of materials decision is amplified. Designers and architects have the ability to choose materials that can protect human health indoors



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