The BCIT Building Science department studied Hammond Forever House!
I decided, with her permission, to share Nichole Wapple’s entire report with you, piece by piece. If it is too dry for you, you are free to skip it. I think it is very cool to have this kind of information specific to our house. What am I talking about? Check out my previous post where she introduces her project.
First, she gives some background. I have added links to the literature she references where I can.
I was interested in how CO2 is used as an indicator of air quality. This is very different from the concern we have about the way CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. I have been concerned that, since we sealed the house as best we could in 2008, the contaminants that exist have gotten worse because they can’t escape so easily through leaky walls.
Take it away, Nichole!
Recent research on the effects of indoor environmental quality has shown that IEQ has a close relationship with the health, comfort, and performance of building occupants. Further, effective ventilation is fundamental to reduce air pollutants and provide a thermally comfortable environment. In older homes, contaminant sources can include deteriorating materials, emissions from cleaning products, mould growth, poorly vented combustion appliances, and occupant-related contaminants.
CO2 is widely used as an indicator of indoor air quality. Its levels in the exterior environment are generally around 400ppm, and it is produced by respiration and other sources. The ASHRAE paper, Is CO2 Indoor Pollutant?, shows that increased CO2 levels (600ppm versus 1,000ppm and 2,500ppm) provide statistically significant decrements in many decision-making performance scales. However, CO2 is not a comprehensive indicator of indoor air quality, as many contaminant sources are not associated with occupancy and thus will not be associated with CO2 levels.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal has published a paper on the Quality of Indoor Residential Air and Health, and discusses the risks of biological and chemical contaminants. Endotoxins in particular are associated with lower ventilation rates, presence of cats and dogs, and increased amounts of settled dust. Nitrogen dioxide is an irritant resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels, such as in an oil-burning furnace.
Ah yes, thanks for reminding us about that oil-burning furnace, Nichole! There’s another reason I’m happy we are not using it right now.
Of course, if everything is working the way it should, the gasses released by the furnace should go out the chimney. This is one of the reasons you should have your furnace and chimney checked regularly, I suppose.