2017 Progress Report: Combining Measurements and Models to Predict the Impacts of Climate Change and Weatherization on Indoor Air Quality and Chronic Health Effects in U.S. Residences

EPA Grant Number: R835750
Title: Combining Measurements and Models to Predict the Impacts of Climate Change and Weatherization on Indoor Air Quality and Chronic Health Effects in U.S. Residences

Investigators: Stephens, Brent
Institution: Illinois Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2017 (Extended to July 31, 2019)
Project Period Covered by this Report: November 1, 2016 through October 31,2017
Project Amount: $499,974
RFA: Indoor Air and Climate Change (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Climate Change , Air


The objectives of this research are to use a combination of field measurements and a nationally representative set of dynamic residential indoor air quality models to predict indoor exposures and associated chronic health effects of several priority pollutants of both indoor and outdoor origin across (1) the current U.S. residential building stock; (2) the current U.S. residential building stock under future climate scenarios of 2050 and 2080; and (3) the future U.S. building stock under future climate scenarios of 2050 and 2080 considering a number of climate policy scenarios that lead to widespread application of weatherization retrofits and turnover of the existing building stock to more energy efficient homes.

Progress Summary:

Work on this project continues to progress, with some modifications based on slow home recruitment for field measurements and an expansion of the modeling scope based on work conducted in years 1 and 2. The project team has made substantial progress on each task. Results to date from the field work portion involve applications of pollutant infiltration measurement methods, including measurements conducted (1) in an unoccupied test apartment unit and (2) in 13 single-family residential field sites both before and after weatherization retrofits have occurred (resulting in 11 successful tests), as well as 7 multi-family residential field sites without retrofits. These results provide some of the first known measurements of envelope penetration factors for PM2.5, ultrafine particles, and ozone made in residences operating under normal conditions using newly developed rapid test methods, as well as the first known measurements of how these parameters change after weatherization retrofits have occurred and how they vary between single-family and multi-family units. Infiltration factors (i.e., the indoor/outdoor ratio in the absence of indoor sources) have also been measured for these same pollutants, as well as for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and black carbon (BC). Additionally, we have been steadily progressing towards the IAQ model development and application portion of this project. We have successfully developed a set of nationally representative combined indoor air and building energy models that incorporates a dynamic mass balance model (built in Python) and an off-the-shelf building energy simulation software tool  (EnergyPlus). To date, the model has been run for: (1) the most current year for which outdoor pollutant and weather data were available (2012) and results have compared well to the literature on residential pollutant concentrations and residential heating and cooling energy use, and (2) for the year 2050 and 2080 in an initial round of modeling future climate scenarios.

Future Activities:

1. Continue to collect field data in homes before and after retrofits, as well as single- and multi-family homes not undergoing retrofits, following the methods we have already developed/revised. The goal is still to target 30 total homes, but meaningful data can still be acquired if the goal of 30 homes is not met.

2. Continue to run scenario analyses using the nationally representative residential IAQ model set to meet the stated expected outcomes of this project.

3. Continue to disseminate results through peer-reviewed publications and engagement with academic and practitioner audiences.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 12 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Indoor exposures, ozone, particulate matter, housing, nitrogen dioxide, black carbon, ventilation, infiltration, modeling

Relevant Websites:

http://built-envi.com/epa-iacc Exit Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2018