Join our network. Make change happen.

GBPN connects like-minded people around the world to research, educate and implement change. Join us today.


Indoor environmental quality related risk factors with energy-efficient retrofitting of housing: A literature review

  • Author(s)/Creator(s):
    Marco Ortiz ∗, Laure Itard , Philomena M. Bluyssen
  • Publisher(s)/Producter(s):

There are indications that energy-retrofitted buildings can create risks for indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and therefore for health and comfort of occupants. A review was conducted to identify and verify those risks, within three themes: building envelope, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC)-systems, and occupants. Publications from the last five years in major peer-reviewed journals from different fields (energy, buildings, indoor air, social sciences) were found by using a variety of keywords (health effects, occupant behaviours, energy-efficient retrofitting, etc.). For the building envelope, retrofitted buildings tend to be air-tighter and more thermally insulated. Hence, humidity problems, build-up of pollutants, and overheating may occur. Installing HVAC-systems and issues within (ducts, filters, maintenance, noise) may also compromise IEQ. Although relationships are difficult to establish, evidence shows that certain retrofits increase the risk of health problems, particularly for airways, skin, and eyes. Despite the installation of energy-retrofitting technologies, not all buildings lower their energy consumption. This is partly due to occupants (behaviours, preferences, needs, awareness) and partly due to technical issues. The studies reviewed, mainly focused on the performance gaps of energy-retrofitted homes and on energy-saving measures. “Comfort” and “health” tend to be disregarded, with both being seldom measured and only assessed by simulation. Occupant behaviours, preferences, and needs are understudied and need to be incorporated into the research and development of retrofitting measures. More interdisciplinary approaches are needed, in which buildings & HVAC-systems, occupants, health and comfort, and IEQ are investigated as interacting elements and based on an integrated approach.

Policy Quality
Household and Residential