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Green Buildings Hazardous to Health? Report Cites Risks of Weatherization

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Green Buildings Hazardous to Health? Report Cites Risks of Weatherization

| architecture, eco building, Green Architecture, green building | June 08, 2011

The buildings commonly referred to as "green" could actually be hazardous to your health, according to a new report. (AP)

The buildings commonly referred to as “green” could actually be hazardous to your health, according to a new report.

That’s one of many warnings out of a new report from the Institute of Medicine, which tracked the potential impact of climate change on indoor environments. 

The report cautions that climate change can negatively and directly affect indoor air quality in several ways. But the scientists behind the study warn that homeowners and businesses could also be making the problem worse by pursuing untested or risky energy-efficiency upgrades. 

“Even with the best intentions, indoor environmental quality issues may emerge with interventions that have not been sufficiently well screened for their effects on occupant safety and health,” the report said. 

To save costs and cut down on emissions, building owners typically find ways to seal off potential leaks and conserve energy. But in “weatherizing” the buildings, they also change the indoor environment. 

By making buildings more airtight, building owners could increase “indoor-air contaminant concentrations and indoor-air humidity,” the report said. By adding insulation, they could trigger moisture problems. By making improvements to older homes, crews could stir up hazardous material ranging from asbestos to harmful caulking — though that problem is not unique to energy improvements. 

The report did not dissuade homeowners and businesses from making the energy-efficiency upgrades. Rather, it called for a more comprehensive approach, urging organizations to track the side effects of various upgrades and minimize the “unexpected exposures and health risks” that can arise from new materials and weatherization techniques.

Hat tip:  AP

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About the author

Drawing upon original ideas and extensive personal and professional experience in the field, David McFadden crafted this article to explore the untapped potential of making historic architectural masterpieces more sustainable. After working at various design practices—both full-time and freelance—and launching his design firm, David identified a significant gap in the industry. In 1984, he founded Consulting For Architects Inc. Careers, an expansive hub designed to align architects with hiring firms for mutual benefit. This platform enables architects to find impactful design work and frees hiring firms from the time-consuming cycles of recruitment and layoffs. David’s innovative approach to employer-employee relations has brought much-needed flexibility and adaptation to the industry. As the Founder and CEO, David has successfully guided his clients and staff through the challenges of four recessions—the early ’80s, early ’90s, early 2000s, the Great Recession, the pandemic, and the current slowdown due to inflation and high-interest rates.

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