Protecting the Health and Well-Being of Building Occupants

These days, people are spending about 90 percent of their time indoors.[1] If that sounds like a lot, it is—and all that indoor time can have serious consequences for the health and well-being of building occupants, particularly since the air inside a building can contain more pollution than the air outside.[2]

Poor indoor air quality is often a result of the building materials used to construct interior spaces, which can emit harmful chemicals such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde. The more time people spend in a space, the more they’re exposed to these emissions.

To ensure the health and well-being of the people who live, work and play in the spaces they design, architects and interior designers need to be aware of the ingredients in the materials they specify.

When selecting materials or finishes for interior applications, architects and interior designers should consider these guidelines:

  • Research materials before selecting them.
  • Specify products that are environmentally responsible.
  • Verify emission performance through independent, third-party certification.
  • Remember that products can create and emit VOCs without VOC content having been added during manufacturing.

In the following video, Richard C. (Rik) Master, FAIA, LEED AP and senior manager of sustainability at USG, discusses the importance of specifying products that promote good indoor air quality:


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[1] Information courtesy of the United States Environmental Protection Agency
[2] Information courtesy of the United States Environmental Protection Agency