Indoor environmental quality
With people generally spending more time indoors, and buildings being more tightly constructed and isolated from the external enviroment, a greater importance is being placed on the indoor environment.
Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is a geneal indicator of the quality of conditions inside a building. It can also include functional aspects of space, for example whether the layout provides access to equipment when needed and whether the building has sufficient space for its occupants.
A better indoor environmental quality can enhance the wellbeing of building occupants and help decrease the occurrence of sick building syndrome and building related illness. It can also lead to a decrease in worker complaints and absenteeism which in turn can improve productivity.
 Factors influencing indoor environmental quality
The indoor building environment is complex and there are a variety of factors that can influence its environmental quality.
- Airborne contaminants (gases and particles) from; office equipment, cleaning products, construction activities, furnishings and carpets, water-damaged building materials, microbial growth (fungal, bacterial and mould), outdoor pollutants and so on.
- Indoor air quality.
- Thermal comfort.
- Daylight, lighting and views.
- Electromagnetic frequency levels.
- Acoustic conditions.
 Optimal indoor environmental quality design
In order to optimise indoor environmental quality, the design and development process should:
- Ensure good quality design, construction, commissioning, operating and maintenance practices.
- Consider aesthetic designs including the importance of views and the integration of natural elements.
- Provide thermal comfort controls for occupants where possible.
- Supply adequate levels and quality of ventilation.
- Prevent airbourne bacteria, mould and other fungi through a design that manages moisture sources inside and outside the building.
- Use building products that do not emit pollutants.
- Use sound absorbing / insulating materials to help create optimal acoustic levels.
 Building management to improve indoor environmental quality
There are a number of ways that the indoor environmental quality of existing buildings can be improved, including:
- Using fragrance-free and low VOC (volatile organic compounds) cleaning products.
- Undertaking audits of cleaning products and devising a cleaning plan to replace products with safer alternatives.
- Vacuuming regularly and using vacuums with HEPA (High-efficiency particulate arrestance) filters.
- Ensuring that HVAC equipment is well maintained and working optimally.
- Creating a door and window opening protocol to maintain sufficient air flow.
- Avoiding dust blowing equipment such as leaf blowers and diesel-powered engine equipment.
- When using pesticides, fertilisers and lime applications, ensuring there is little or no wind.
- Maintaining buildings and furnishings to a high standard reducing the need for renovation and remodelling.
- Ensuring filters in HVAC systems are properly maintained.
- Optimising lighting.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- Air change rates.
- Air quality.
- Building related illness.
- Health and wellbeing impacts of natural and artificial lighting.
- Indoor air quality.
- Lighting and health infographic.
- Sick building syndrome.
- TG10 2016 At a glance, wellbeing.
- TSI Environmental dust monitoring system.
- Use of lighting to improve health and wellbeing.
Featured articles and news
What is Modernism?
Modernist architecture and its many international variations explained.
BRE support Europe-wide strategic heating plans for local and national authorities.
Work set to begin on 'one of America's greatest parks', which will be 10 times bigger than Central Park.
One of our most popular articles - RSHP's Mike Davies writes about the concept design process.
As Cuba mourn the death of Castro, major renovation of this symbolic landmark may be a reflection of the country's fresh start.
How cannabis plants are used to create an alternative building material with plenty of advantages.
What does Mayor Sadiq Khan's first policy statement mean for London's infrastructure?
Bjarke Ingels Group announced as winners of design competition for new residential landmark in Amsterdam.
Designing Buildings Wiki has reviewed a well-designed and researched set of architecture city maps.
Designing Buildings Wiki attended the second annual Building Live conference, tackling the challenges facing construction.