and some indoor environments.1 The bulk of EPA’s efforts are directed toward research on and regulation of greenhouse gases, but the agency’s Indoor Environments Division addresses climate-change questions as part of its objective to protect the public’s health by promoting healthier indoor environments.
One major initiative is the ENERGY STAR voluntary building-certification program, which promotes the use of low-energy–demand designs, construction, and appliances. EPA cites lower greenhouse-gas emissions as one the benefits of certified homes (EPA, 2010e). The voluntary Indoor airPLUS standard allows builders who have already met ENERGY STAR requirements to apply an additional label to structures that have met criteria that include resistance to outdoor water intrusion, mitigation of opportunities for indoor dampness, a heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system that meets American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers standards for ventilation, and low-emission building materials (EPA, 2009b).
In late 2010, the agency released a draft of voluntary Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades for public comment (EPA, 2010b). The protocols were developed in conjunction with the Department of Energy (DOE) Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades (DOE, 2011) and focus on potential health effects of weatherization and other retrofits intended to promote energy efficiency. They touch on such issues as moisture, emissions from building materials, and ventilation and offer guidance on exposure assessment, mitigation, and adaptation strategies.
EPA specifically addresses the subject of the present report in an Indoor Air Quality and Climate Readiness Web site that in late 2010 included weatherization and indoor air-quality briefing material and links to more general indoor environmental-health information (EPA, 2010d). Several other information and education programs indirectly address building problems and exposures that have been associated with climate change and the indoor environment and with remediation of their adverse effects. The Agency’s Tools for Schools program, for example, seeks to “prevent and solve the majority of indoor air problems with minimal cost and involvement” (EPA, 2009a, p. i).2 As was the case with Indoor airPLUS, actions address outdoor-water intrusion, indoor dampness, proper ventilation, well-maintained HVAC systems, and low-emission building materials.
1 Workplace environmental problems are under the jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This report touches on issues in offices but does not address industrial environments, which may also be adversely affected by climate change (Nilsson and Kjellstrom, 2010).
2 These topics are also dealt with in the 2006 National Academies report Green Schools: Attributes for Health and Learning (NRC, 2006).