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Mould growth in energy efficient buildings: Causes, health implications and strategies to mitigate the risk

  • Author(s)/Creator(s):
    Arianna Brambilla, Alberto Sangiorgio
  • Publisher(s)/Producter(s):

Today, buildings still account for almost half of the global energy consumption and carbon emission. This highlights the necessity to increase energy efficiency requirements worldwide in a common effort to reduce the construction sector's impacts on the environment. The current energy policies are driving toward a design that relies on airtight and highly insulated envelopes. As a consequence, energy efficient houses are found to have insufficient indoor air change rates, impacting on the indoor air quality and resulting in higher latent loads. The increased indoor humidity, coupled with the rising trend to use bio-based construction materials, can easily support mould growth and facilitate indoor organic proliferation. It has been estimated that the proportion of buildings damaged by mould is 45% in Europe, 40% in the USA, 30% in Canada and 50% in Australia, highlighting the extent of this issue. Beyond the economic loss due to the remediation works needed to rectify a buildings degradation due to fungi, mould also has significant adverse health effects on the building occupants. Data show that the occurrence of asthmatic symptoms is higher in new energy efficient buildings with low ventilation rate. This paper investigates the effects of building sustainably on the indoor environment in relation to the risk of mould growth. Favourable conditions for growth, causes of growth, effects on health as well as possible solutions are addressed. The conclusions are a step forward toward a more precise and detailed comprehension of mould growth to support policymakers and promote sustainable housing standards.

Policy Quality
Household and Residential
Industry and Economy