An investigation of IAQ, thermal comfort and Sick Building Syndrome symptoms in UK energy efficient homes

Grainne McGill, Lukumon Oyedele, Keith McAllister

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    – Concern of the deterioration of indoor environmental quality as a result of energy efficient building design strategies is growing. Apprehensions of the effect of airtight, super insulated envelopes, the reduction of infiltration, and the reliance on mechanical systems to provide adequate ventilation (air supply) is promoting emerging new research in this field. The purpose of this paper is to present the results of an indoor air quality (IAQ) and thermal comfort investigation in UK energy efficient homes, through a case study investigation.

    – The case study dwellings consisted of a row of six new-build homes which utilize mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) systems, are built to an average airtightness of 2m3/m2/hr at 50 Pascal’s, and constructed without a central heating system. Physical IAQ measurements and occupant interviews were conducted during the summer and winter months over a 24-hour period, to gain information on occupant activities, perception of the interior environment, building-related health and building use.

    – The results suggest inadequate IAQ and perceived thermal comfort, insufficient use of purge ventilation, presence of fungal growth, significant variances in heating patterns, occurrence of sick building syndrome symptoms and issues with the MVHR system.

    Practical implications
    – The findings will provide relevant data on the applicability of airtight, mechanically ventilated homes in a UK climate, with particular reference to IAQ.

    – IAQ data of this nature is essentially lacking, particularly in the UK context. The findings will aid the development of effective sustainable design strategies that are appropriate to localized climatic conditions and sensitive to the health of building occupants.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)329-348
    Number of pages20
    JournalSmart and Sustainable Built Environment
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Indoor Air Quality
    • Thermal Comfort
    • Sick Building Syndrome
    • Energy Efficient Homes


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