News Brief

People Get Sicker in Overcooled and Overheated Buildings

Energy-efficiency advocates fighting profligate energy use to overcool workplaces in summer and overheat them in winter now have a compelling new argument: people are healthier in spaces that are less severely conditioned. That is the finding of a peer-reviewed study by Mark Mendell, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, entitled “Indoor Thermal Factors and Symptoms in Office Workers: Findings from the U.S. EPA BASE Study.”

Mendell analyzed data from 95 buildings characterized in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Building Assessment Survey and Evaluation (BASE) Study, comparing indoor temperatures to recommended comfort levels. They found that the buildings were consistently overcooled in the summer and some were overheated in winter. They then checked for a range of building-related health symptoms, and found that both cooler indoor temperatures in summer and warmer temperatures in winter consistently correlated with more symptoms.

The paper, LBNL-2083E, was posted online on August 24, 2009, and has been accepted for publication in Indoor Air.

 

Published September 17, 2009

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