In 2010, commercial and residential buildings accounted for 41.2 percent of U.S. energy consumption,1 and 74 percent of total U.S. electrical consumption.2 Despite modest projections for future U.S. population growth, consumption of energy in residential and nonresidential buildings is expected to rise, as the construction of new structures outpaces the demolition of old ones. As such, the quest for more energy-efficient buildings is an essential element of efforts to slow the overall growth rate in energy consumption.
Construction methods designed to increase a building’s energy efficiency primarily focus on securing the exterior envelope of the building to the greatest possible extent. However, a tighter building envelope generally results in less outdoor air being circulated throughout the building. Reduced air circulation also means that emissions from building construction materials, furniture products and household furnishings linger in the air for longer periods of time. IAQ can be further compromised by the use of various kinds of cleaning products as well as by consumer cleaning habits and behaviors such as smoking.