Module 6: Indoor Environmental Quality

Module 6: Indoor Environmental Quality

Authored by EcoRise

Essential questions: 
How do buildings influence the health of occupants?
What are the major components of indoor environmental quality?
What strategies can improve the health and well-being of building occupants?
What are some sources and potential health impacts of indoor air pollution?
How do building materials and building maintenance impact indoor air quality?
What aspects of green building affect indoor air quality?
How is the indoor air quality of our school, and what can we do to improve it?
What is daylighting, and how can it benefit or challenge building design?
What are specific daylighting strategies that can improve the indoor environmental quality of a building?
What are some specific strategies for improving indoor environmental quality and the health and well-being of occupants?
What would it look like for us to design a classroom that incorporates each of the major components of indoor environmental quality?

LESSON 6.1: Healthy Buildings, Healthy Occupants
(Estimated time needed: One 55-minute session)
This lesson introduces students to the major topics they will examine in depth later in this module. They begin by considering how the school environment affects them by noting the characteristics of rooms in which they feel the healthiest and most productive during the school day. This reflection helps introduce students to an important system goal in LEED, the Impact Category called Enhance Individual Human Health and Well-Being. Next, via a lively video, students learn about sick building syndrome. They play a matching game to link conditions, symptoms, causes, and possible solutions related to sick buildings. A presentation helps students establish a base from which to learn about the LEED Indoor Environmental Quality Credit Category by introducing categories of air quality, lighting, acoustics, and occupant comfort as key components. Finally, students review and share their analyses of case studies of actual healthy building projects to stimulate their interest in the strategies they will investigate in later lessons.

LESSON 6.2: Invisible Hazards
(Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students explore specific health hazards caused by air pollutants within the built environment. Via a matching game, they identify common pollutants, such as mold, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide. Then, students focus on a specific pollutant to research its source and potential health impacts. A presentation helps students pull together what they’ve learned and the larger impact of these pollutants. To complete the lesson, students create posters to communicate how indoor air pollutants affect the health and well-being of occupants.

LESSON 6.3: Keep It Clean
(Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students take a closer look at how various construction techniques can influence indoor environmental quality. They identify building design, construction, and maintenance strategies that reduce indoor environmental hazards and promote a healthy indoor environment. Using the school as a case study, students evaluate potential air quality hazards and propose strategies for improving air quality throughout the school. Then they work together to design an elevator pitch to sell a solution to school administrators.

LESSON 6.4: Daylighting
(Estimated time needed: One 55-minute session)
In this lesson, students explore how daylighting and other lighting strategies used in buildings impact occupant comfort and energy use. Then students apply what they've learned by examining the lighting throughout the school building, identifying well-lit and poorly lit areas of the school. Working in pairs, students then conduct research to evaluate the benefits and challenges of daylighting as well as design strategies that increase daylighting. Finally, students create a design for a building that maximizes daylighting and other beneficial lighting technologies for ideal occupant comfort.

LESSON 6.5: Comfort Is Key
(Estimated time needed: Three 55-minute sessions plus time for conducting survey and processing survey results)
In this lesson, students examine building strategies—such as acoustic design, thermal design, air quality control, maintenance practices, and ergonomic furniture—that can increase occupant comfort, happiness, and productivity. They also investigate how occupant control over temperature and ventilation-regulation systems can improve the satisfaction and well-being of occupants. Then students conduct a school survey to gain a better understanding of occupant comfort and make recommendations for improving the indoor environmental quality of the school.

LESSON 6.6: The Ideal Indoor Environment
(Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students identify how components of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) work together to create an ideal environment for occupants. First they list all the key topics and vocabulary they’ve learned in this module; then they build a mind map to process those concepts and explore interconnections. Students then apply this consolidated learning by creating a sketch for a classroom that has all the major components of IEQ. Students present their designs and conduct peer-to-peer evaluations to provide other groups with feedback on design strengths and strategies for improvement. To conclude the module, students discuss the ideas of synergies and trade-offs and why understanding these concepts is essential for a green builder.

Supplementary References
Every LEED Prep lesson includes references in the Assess section to the GBES LEED v4 Green Associate Exam Preparation Study Guide (when relevant), the LEED Green Associate Candidate Handbook (for Task and Knowledge Domains), and LEED Impact Categories. Those resources are included here, along with other references students may find helpful in preparing for the LEED Green Associate Exam.