Day 1 - The Indoor Generation

The introduction to Passive House was quite an eye opener. I was prepared to learn, but I was not ready for the classroom intensity and overall content that I’d have to absorb and retain over the next two weeks to pass the exam. Yikes!

Our mentor over the ensuing weeks was Daniel Kress, whom I can simply describe as a passionate advocate for improving the quality of buildings we live in via the most economical and sustainable method possible. His research and experience has paved the way for many and provided me with plenty of insight to design in our climate with the resources we have available today. Hats off to Daniel and his commitment to make the most impact by educating the masses. Check out his site if you’d like to learn more. Smart Plus Homes.   

I’ve learnt….

In Australia the building industry contributes to 23% of CO2 emissions. This includes not only the construction but also the lifespan operation and maintenance of the building. 

It is predicted that in 2050, 58% of Australian buildings will be built after 2019. 

The building industry has the ability to make a difference. 

Some statistics….

As a society we’ve created artificial environments and spend 90% of our time indoors. Indoor air quality is 5 times more toxic than outdoor air. We are known as the Indoor Generation. Check out this video to get some perspective.

Back in 1998 the CSIRO estimated that the cost of poor indoor air quality (IAQ) in Australia may be as high as $12billion per year.

CO2 & air quality;  

  • 250-350ppm (parts per million) is deemed fresh air,

  • 350-1000ppm is deemed acceptable indoor air quality, 

  • 1000-2000ppm you may notice drowsiness,

  • 2,000-5,000ppm is when you’ll really notice the stale air, stuffiness, poor concentration, loss of attention, nausea and headaches

  • 5,000 causes lung ventilation to increase by 5%, and is recognised in Australia as an exposure limit over an 8 hour period

  • >40,000ppm results in serious oxygen deprivation, resulting in permanent brain damage, coma or even death.

Do you have any idea of the CO2 levels in your home? We’re getting a CO2 meter to help you find out. If I was considering a new build or renovation I’d want to know the toxicity in my home and design to ensure a safe and healthy home. At a bare minimum I’d consider bedrooms, where we spend a third of our lives!

CO2 is not the only indoor air pollutant, we should also consider CO (carbon monoxide), VOCs, dust, smoke (do I really need to mention this one?), mould spores, to name a few.  Unfortunately in Australia there are no measures in place to control indoor air quality of homes. I find this fascinating considering the health risks and latent cost is long known.  If you’d like to read more, check out the US-EPA site for a much deeper look into the topic.

This sums up our decision to take action and make change.