extremes and the resources available to mitigate such conditions, including air conditioning and other active and passive means to control the indoor thermal environment (Chapter 7).
The sections below are a synopsis of the committee’s major findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
Why the Effect of Climate Change on the Indoor Environment and Health Is an Issue
Indoor environmental conditions exert considerable influence on health, learning, and productivity. Poor environmental conditions and indoor contaminants are estimated to cost the US economy tens of billions of dollars a year in exacerbation of illnesses, allergic symptoms, and lost productivity (Fisk and Rosenfeld, 1997).
Climate change has the potential to affect the indoor environment. There is a large literature on how the indoor environment influences occupant health and how the external environment influences the indoor environment under different climate conditions. Research on the possible effects of climate change on human health is also emerging. However, the intersection of those bodies of research—the fraction specifically on the effects of climate change on human health in the indoor environment—is small. Such studies are complicated by the fact that the effects of climate change on indoor environmental quality are region-dependent and vary with the age and condition of the regionally dependent built environment.
Multiple parts of government and the private sector have a stake in issues of climate change, indoor environmental quality, and public health, but no one body has lead responsibility. As a result, there is a lack of leadership in identifying potential hazards, formulating solutions, and setting research and policy priorities.
Elements of Climate-Change Research Relevant to the Indoor Environment and Health
A 2010 National Academies report concluded that climate change “poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems” (NRC, 2010a). Measurements indicate that the first decade of the 21st century was warmer than the first decade of the 20th century. In the United