Sustainable You

Sustainability and the Built Environment

Wk 12: Sick Building Syndrome

Response due at the beginning of class 11/5.  (Individual answers only, not a Studio answer).

Please read this EPA information about Sick Building Syndrome EPA Sick Building Syndromesick building sign.  After you read the information, please answer the following questions.  SBS is a very real issue in interior design, and it is crucial you have a strong working knowledge of the concept.

1. What is Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) ?

2. What are the most common sources of SBS?

3.  List 5 possible reasons CAES OIT could have SBS.

4.  What approaches can you take to lessen the effects of SBS in the CAES OIT project?


Filed under: Sustainable Design

14 Responses

  1. Addison Ruffin says:

    1. Sick Building Syndrome is something a building can have which results in its occupants experiencing small heath and comfort issues. It is possible for these complaints to be across the building as a whole or localized to a certain room or area. With SBS, the experienced symptoms are relieved soon after leaving the infected building. Inadequate or improper maintenance can cause a building to have SBS. SBS is different from Building Related Illness, which is diagnosed when symptoms are directly related to airborne contaminates within the building.
    • Inadequate ventilation: air must be adequately distributed to people within a building (this includes heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Indoor air quality now requires a minimum of 15 cfm of outdoor air per person. However, the required per space depends on the use of the space.
    • Chemical contaminates from indoor sources: Items within the building can contaminate the air and contribute to SBS. Some examples of specific items include but are not limited to adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, manufactured wood products, copy machines, and cleaning products. The VOCs emitted by tobacco smoke are another major concern.
    • Chemical contaminates from outdoor sources: Care must be taken to eliminate the possibility for outdoor pollutants to enter a building. Pluming vents, cars, and other buildings, among other things can emit elements that will lead to SBS.
    • Biological Contaminates: These include bacteria, molds, pollen, and viruses. Improper use or cleaning of products such as appliances, ceiling tiles, and carpets may lead to growth of such pollutants.
    • Other: Temperature, lighting, and humidity may also lead to SBS. However, it is possible for specific causes to remain a mystery.
    3. a) The space above the dropped ceiling is not cleaned regularly and it is very possible that it could be a breeding ground fro biological contaminates
    b) The lighting within the CAES OIT office is insufficient
    c) The interior furnishings such as the chairs, desks, copiers, computer equipment, etc. could certainly be emitting VOCs, which would cause the air quality to be poor.
    d) Because it is an old building, contaminates from improper pluming pipes, surrounding streets, or nearby structures could easily be penetrating the building.
    e) The air vents they had within the space could be inadequate. They appeared to be very dusty and I am not confident that they are providing enough clean air to the space in order to fully prevent SBS
    4. What approaches can you take to lessen the effects of SBS in the CAES OIT project?
    There are a number of things that can be done to lessen to effects of SBS in CAES OIT. First, the pollutant sources fan be removed or changed. Carpets, ceiling tiles, furniture, etc. can be replaced or treated to modify to amounts of off gassing occurring within the space. The HVAC system could be serviced routinely and the filters could be replaced. The area above the drop ceilings could be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of unwanted pollutants. We need to make sure that an adequate amount of air is being ventilated in the space and if it is not enough it could be increased. Air cleaning devices could be implemented to lessen the amount of particles in the air. A high performance air filter may be necessary to eliminate the smaller pollutants. It seems that one of the more important aspects of omitting SBS is educating the building’s occupants about ways to minimize activities that promote SBS. When people are knowledgeable about SBS they will be able to better prevent its development.

  2. ellie christopher says:

    1. Sick Building Syndrome is an effect that happens to a building’s occupants. The people that live in a building experience acute health and comfort effects that seem to come from the building itself. People that suffer from the effects of SBS usually have symptoms such as headaches; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry or itchy skin, difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; sensitivity to odors; etc. The World Health Organization believes that many of these problems may be related to poor indoor air quality.
    2. The most common sources of SBS are inadequate ventilation (reduced outdoor air ventilation rates were found to be inadequate to maintain the health and comfort of building occupants), chemical contaminants from indoor and outdoor sources (most indoor air pollution comes from sources inside the building, outdoor air that enters a building can be a source of indoor air pollution), and biological contaminants (physical symptoms related to biological contamination include cough, chest tightness, fever, chills, muscle aches, and allergic responses such as mucous membrane irritation and upper respiratory congestion).
    3. CAES OIT may be suffering from SBS because of all of the common sources of SBS. Because they have several different types of machines such as copy machines, computers, and cigarette smoke from the smoking zone outside, they may be overwhelmed with chemical contaminants that are not being properly ventilated out of the building. There could be some biological contaminants in the walls or underneath the floors, but you can’t be sure until you rip things up.
    4. To help improve the CAES OIT building we should try and figure out the possible sources of the contamination, and try to remove or modify these sources of pollutants. This includes routine maintenance of HVAC systems, venting contaminant source emissions to the outdoors, and allows new building materials to off-gas before the occupants come back in. We could also increase ventilation rates of the HVAC system. Since they do have several machines, they could have to increase the ventilation to 60 cfm. It is also possible to clean the air but the inexpensive machines are not very effective, and the machines that are effective are very expensive. Educating all of the workers of the CAES OIT building can help them communicate and work together to prevent these problems from occurring again.

  3. Laura M. says:

    1. “Sick Building Syndrome” is different from “Building Related Illness” in that the people in the building are experiencing symptoms that are unrelated to the building’s airborne contaminates. Building Related Illnesses have determined that there is an airborne contaminate (or other building related issues) that is causing the symptoms of the people who use the building on a regular basis. With Sick Building Syndrome no specific illness or cause can be identified. These unidentified symptoms are associated with the built environment that the people are in on a constant basis. Symptoms described can be similar to those of a cold. These symptoms can vanish after leaving the building. Although these symptoms can be from other issues in health, Sick Buildings tend to exaggerate these health issues.
    2. The EPA lists the following suggestions as sources for the causes of Sick Building Syndrome. Inadequate Ventilation is one source listed. The building ventilation standards were lowered to 5 cfm per person in 1973 because of the oil embargo (to reduce energy consumption). This was found inadequate for a building. Not enough adequate air was brought to the occupants of the buildings so ASHRAE has recently revised its ventilation standard to bring a minimum of 15 cfm of outdoor air to each person. Chemical contaminants from indoor sources are another contributing factor of Sick Building Syndrome. Materials such as carpets, wood flooring, paint, cabinets, pesticides all give off volatile organic compounds that affect human health with the same symptoms that colds have. Moderate amounts of VOCs being emitted can cause ear, nose, and throat irritations, headaches, and so on. Another source of Sick Building Syndrome is chemical contaminants from outdoor sources. Motor exhausts from cars, exhaust from plumbing, and so on can bring outdoor contaminants inside the building. Carbon monoxide is a very serious problem when in high concentrations and can be deadly. Biological contaminants (like the many things that cause allergies) like pollen, mold, mildew, and so on can cause serious health problems. Although if a person isn’t allergic to these outdoor allergens, it is not likely that they will be affected by these outdoor contaminants. Many people unfortunately are allergic and these allergens can cause serious affects (even asthma).
    3. 1-One reason CAES can have sick building syndrome is that the building is a very ld building and may house many allergens and contaminants. The years of moisture may have left years and years of mold in the building. Mold can seriously affect the respiratory health of many people. 2- The building is very poorly lighted and doesn’t bring adequate light to the people constantly in the building. Poor lighting can cause headaches when people are straining to see. Natural light can help produce vitamin D which in return increases endorphins. Endorphins make us happy. By increasing endorphin levels this can help the people not be as miserable. 3-Another reason could be from the poor design of the space doesn’t encourage or foster community. Fostering community gets the people away from the daily drag of the office. Community helps the staff socialize and get rid of stress. 4-There are no windows to see outside of the office spaces. Being enclosed for long periods of time can make the staff feel too enclosed and isolated. 5- A large reason may also be the noise levels of the building. Already being irritated from Sick Building Syndrome may cause more annoyance when you overhear other staff’s conversations. Not having a quiet place to concentrate on your work can be very frustrating.
    4. We can offering better lighting (not using dreary lights like compact fluorescents) and better placement of lighting. Another step to take would be to improve the soundproofing of the building. If the budget allows, soundproofing by adding foam or soundproof panels is a great way to get rid of unwanted noises. Bringing in outside light from the clerestory windows would help with vitamin D levels and endorphin levels as well. Changing small things like artwork would help with inspiration and overall appearance of the building. Artwork that the staff can relate to would help the staff adjust better to their surroundings. Using different paint colors can help them feel more positive about the business surroundings. The overall layout of the floor plan can be better adjusted to help foster community. Bringing the conference room to the center of the area will also help improve communication and bringing the staff together. Having a mutual place that brings the staff away from the daily work of the office will help bring up the attitudes and bring a more positive environment.

  4. Katherine Platzer says:

    1. Sick Building Syndrome is a term that describes possible situations in which occupants of a building or residence have certain health problems that could be caused by the buildings unhealthy attributes but that can’t be identified. The problems could be throughout the whole building or in just a particular area.
    2. There can be many causes of sick building syndrome. 1. Inadequate ventilation: This is when HVAC systems do not distribute air correctly. 2. Chemical contaminants from indoor sources: This includes but is not limited to upholstery, adhesives, manufactured wood, copy machines, pesticides, tobacco smoke and cleaning chemicals. Also, unvented kerosene and gas heaters, woodstoves and fireplaces. 3. Chemicals from the outdoors: Pollutants from building exhausts, plumbing vents, and car gas can come in from open windows and vents leading to the outside. 4. Biological contaminants: This includes but is not limited to bacteria, mold, viruses, and animal and insect droppings, and pollen. These can be found in standing water in ducts, humidifiers and drain pans.
    3. A. Since there is no way to open the windows, there is no way for the indoor air to be circulated to the outside and vice versa. This is a contribution of inadequate ventilation. B. Their copy machines and printers are used very frequently, which could be an indoor contaminant. C. I also talked to someone that said when it rains, the smokers congregate around the external vent to the HVAC and they can smell the smoke inside the building. This could be an outdoor contaminant. D. With it being an older building/historic building, there are many hidden places that have not been cleaned in a while. In an older building, mold and bacteria can grow mush easier and are harder to find. This could be a possible indoor contaminant. E. The upholstery, wood flooring or other electronics could be omitting VOC’s which could be another cause of SBS.
    4. There are many things that we could do to reduce the effects of SBS. Any furnishings and fabric we bring in needs to be offgased before we bring them into the building. Regular cleaning needs to be done as well as regular maintenance with the HVAC system to get the maximum satisfaction out of the HVAC system and to reduce the bacteria, pollen and other air bourne things out of the air. Also, since we are not alter the ventilation and light with the current situation, implementing creative light sources would be beneficial to the indoor atmosphere

  5. David S. Estes says:

    1. Sick Building Syndrome is the term attributed to those that spend much time in a building and have illness or discomfort that is sourced only to the building.

    2. Common sources of Sick Building Syndrome are: -INADEQUATE VENTILATION – 20 cfm/person is needed in an office as well as a HVAC system that distributes air evenly throughout a space. -CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS FROM INDOOR SOURCES – many products inside buildings contain or can produce chemicals that pollute the indoor air. They can come from upholstery, adhesives, and even pesticides. -CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS FROM OUTDOOR SOURCES- air pollutants from outside can come through vents, openings, and windows in the building and pollute the indoor air. – BIOLOGICAL CONTAMINANTS- These are mold, pollen, viruses, bacteria, droppings, and insects that can contaminate the indoor air.

    3. 1) The ventilation system could likely have biological contaminants that are being blown into those small, closed off offices and there is no windows or doors that could be opened if needed for fresh air.
    2) The amount of solitude and lack of interaction in the space can be detrimental and cause physical and emotion problems for employees.
    3) Being close to a major road and having a light industrial area behind them could bring contaminants from the outside.
    4) Being in an office and its equipment all day in a small confined area makes those in the space prone to the effects of chemical contaminants from indoor sources.
    5) The lighting in the space is very drape and depressing and can drain the body and mind.

    4. To lessen the effects of Sick Building Syndrome on the CAES OIT project we could first Reconfigure the existing space to allow for more light and new innovative lighting, spaces for personal and social interaction, higher ceilings, and colors that create a calming creative space. On top of those suggestions an indoor air quality investigation procedure can be done to see if the space truly has SBS (even though I am sure they do). One would do a walk through of the space and identify the occupants, HVAC system, possible pollutant pathways, and possible contaminant sources. After, appropriate measures should be taken to deal with the air pollutants and what and where they are coming from.

  6. Ashley Sellen says:

    1. Sick building syndrome refers to the health and comforts problems in a given building. These problems, even though no actual illness can be identified, can be tracked to the individual spending extended periods of time within the building. Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) can be pinned down to one room or can be widespread throughout the entire building.

    2. Inadequate ventilation can be a cause of SBS in that the HVAC system is not capable of dispersing air effectively to the people within the building. Next, chemical contaminants from indoor sources affect the health of a building. Adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, copy machines and anything that may give off VOC’s may contribute to SBS. Chemicals from outdoor sources should not be forgotten either. Air pollution from outside can seep its way in and cause bad air for the occupants. Pollutants from vehicles, plumbing vents, and building exhausts are all examples of these outdoor chemical contaminants. Lastly, biological contaminants such as mold, pollen, and viruses cause SBS. You may be able to find these types of contaminants from things such as stagnant water, insect or bird droppings. Biological contaminants may cause occupants to cough, have tightness in the chest, and come down with a fever, chills, muscle aches, and even allergic reactions.

    3. Being an old refurbished mill, CAES is susceptible to biological contaminants such as molds and bacteria. CAES should be thoroughly inspected for all these contaminants in order to assure the occupants that it is safe. Inadequate ventilation could be a possible problem in CAES as well. Since there are limited windows to open throughout the office space, fresh air is limited. Fresh circulating air is key to a healthy building. Lighting is a huge problem in the office space. CAES does not have optimum lighting, which can cause migraines and even apathy in the occupants. The initial design of CAES might also be causing SBS. Occupants have expressed that there is no sense of community or togetherness because of completely enclosed office spaces. One final reason might be chemical contaminants such as copy machines and adhesives used in the carpeting within all the office spaces.

    4. We can first start by taking up the carpet in the all the office spaces. By eliminating the carpet, we can eliminate excess and unnecessary VOC’s. Next, we can have the building inspected to make sure it is free of all biological contaminants such as mold, bacteria, and pollen. We can also check the HVAC system to be certain that has a clean air filter and that it is circulating fresh air within the entire office space. Lastly, we should educate everyone within in the office so that even after we are done with the project, they can continue to make their working environment a better one to be in everyday.

  7. Meredith Tannehill says:

    1. Sick Building Syndrome is a term that is used to refer to very mild health problems such as itchy eyes, runny nose, or irritation of the throat experienced by individuals working within a building. Although the symptoms and discomfort are apparent the source of causation remains unknown and therefore so does the health diagnosis.
    2. a) Inadequate Ventilation: Poor HVAC systems that do not evenly distribute the air among the office area to all individuals, SBS is probable. It is recommended that not only you have an efficient and running HVAC unit but also allow for 20cfm of outdoor air per person in an office space. b) Chemical Contaminants from Indoor Sources: unfortunately, many of the indoor air pollutants come from a wide variety of materials and products used within the interior space. Items such as adhesives, carpeting and upholstery, and copy machines may emit VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, such as formaldehyde which can be extremely detrimental to the human body. c) Chemical Contaminants from Outdoor Sources: Pollutants from vehicle or other building exhausts can come inside the building through poorly located vents, window openings, or garages. d) Biological Contaminants: Bacteria and viruses, molds and pollen, and insects can all contribute to indoor contaminants and have an adverse effect of one’s health.
    3. a) the building could have an HVAC system that is lacking on its efficiency to circulate air throughout the office spaces; the area could also have vents that are in poor locations and allowing building combustion and exhaust pollutants inside to the occupants to inhale. b) because employees seldom leave their offices to mingle or congregate they are limiting themselves to getting fresh air from outdoors or simply air from a different area in the building c) being exposed and near machinery like copy machines and other technology can emit strong and harmful VOCs that hurt one internally d) if the office space is not cleaned on regular basis, stagnant water or breeding insects can thrive and cause problems for occupants e) having virtually one opening to the outdoors and no windows limits the amount of fresh air that can come indoors.
    4. To improve IAQ within the CAES offices, routine check-ups on the HVAC system will be needed to ensure proper flow of air and to make sure that the filters are clean and safe for the inhabitants. It is important to educate the occupants of the space out ways they can each contribute to a healthier indoor environment…by keeping areas where water can accumulate (break room, vending machine) dry and making sure that offices are kept dust free will not only be beneficial to the inhabitant of the office space but for the entire CAES building.

  8. Lila Wilson says:

    1. Sick Building System is a situation that plagues 30% of new and remodeled buildings where the occupants suffer from health and comfort problems that cannot be diagnosed but seem to be caused by the amount of time spent within the building. Symptoms of SBS can include dizziness, headache, fatigue, as well as irritation of the throat, eye, or nose. The symptoms usually go away when the occupants leave the building.
    2. Sick Building Syndrome can be caused by a variety of sources. First is inadequate ventilation due to either an HVAC system not fully circulating air throughout the building evenly or, in an older building, because the system only need to provide 5 cfm of outdoor air per person. Second is from chemical contaminants from indoor sources such as cleaning agents, tobacco smoke, carpeting and copy machines as well as others. The next cause is from chemical contaminants from outdoor sources like exhaust from vehicles, building exhausts, and plumbing vents. Finally biological contaminants add to SBS through bacteria, mold, pollen, and viruses.
    3. CAES OIT could have SBS because there is poor ventilation within each individual office since they’re enclosed. Another reason could be the location of the office next to the outdoor ventilation unit. This unit could be adding exhaust into the indoor, circulating air. CAES might also have VOCs being released into the air through the carpet that is installed within each office. Another source of contaminant comes from the copy area as the copy machines release VOCs. SBS could also be caused from biological contaminants present within the office that can not be killed by natural light since there is hardly any natural light.
    4. We plan on removing the carpet and exposing the existing hardwood flooring which will eliminate the VOCs released in those areas. Another solution would be to increase the ventilation rates to meet at least the minimum rates specified by code. Specific air cleaning devices could also be installed but at a price as well as making sure the air filters are changed regularly. For the remodel, it will be important to use products that emit little to no VOCs. Finally, before we leave CAES we should educate the employees on how to care for their environment and what types of cleaning products to use.

  9. Kimberly Love says:

    1. Sick building syndrome (SBS) also known as “multiple chemical sensitivity” occurs when the occupants of a building experience acute health effects that seem to be linked to time spent in a building. It is typically a product of breathing indoor-air contaminated by mold and/or chemical toxins. Frequently, problems result when a building is maintained in a manner that is inconsistent with its original design or prescribed operating procedures, or when occupant activities create a problem.

    2. Most common sources of SBS:
    – Inadequate temperature, humidity, or ventilation. The reduction in the required number of cfm’s of outside air in buildings has increased the amount of body odor and stale air in buildings. Lower outdoor air ventilation rates “were found to be inadequate to maintain the health and comfort of building occupants”.
    – Chemical contaminants from outdoor sources, such as pollutants from motor vehicle exhausts, plumbing vents, and building exhausts (bathrooms and kitchens). Without proper ventilation, the pollutants that enter are not able to leave.
    – Chemical contaminants from indoor sources, such as, adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, copy machines, manufactured wood products, cleaning agents and pesticides. Environmental tobacco smoke and combustion products from stoves, fireplaces and unvented space heaters can also be sources of chemical contaminants.
    – Biological contaminants such as pollen, bacteria, viruses and molds. These contaminants can breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in humidifiers, drain pans, and ducts, or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, insulation, or carpet. One bacterium that can enter indoor air, Legionella, has caused both Pontiac Fever and Legionnaire’s Disease.

    3. List 5 possible reasons CAES OIT could have SBS.
    – Problems result when a building is maintained in a manner that is inconsistent with its original design or prescribed operating procedures, or when occupant activities create a problem.
    – Poorly designed furnishings, furniture, and equipment. Furnishings that absorb odors, equipment that emits toxins, and space plans that don’t maximize the function of the space lead to frustration and headaches.
    – Bad acoustics or infrasound. White noise can change the perspective of one’s surrounding and experience during work. The lack of good insulation forces employees to isolate themselves to eliminate distractions- in a ill-ventilated space- during work hours.
    – Inadequate lighting & plants. The body needs natural light and natural oxygen to be healthy, which the CAES office lacks.
    – Small spaces with inefficient ventilation. Staff in CAES may suffer from irritation of the skin, mucous membanes (mouth, nose, throat), headache, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating due to lack of fresh air.
    4. Approach to CAES OIT project:
    – Removal of pollutant sources including mold and other toxins in existing infrastructure
    – Use toxic-free paints, adhesives, solvents, and pesticides
    – Increase the number of cfm air exchanges
    – Change the aesthetic of the space- incorporate the outdoors inside.

  10. Lauren Lee says:

    1.Sick Building Syndrome is used to describe the negative effects a person can experience during the duration of his experience within a closed environment. These negative effects range from general discomfort to health related issues and are not linked to a specific illness or cause. These effects can include headache; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors. These symptoms are typically gone after the person has exited the building. Unlike SBS, Building Related Illnesses can be directly identified clinically and can take longer to recover from after leaving the infected area.

    2.Sick Building Syndrome can be linked to several different causes and factors within the building area. They include inadequate ventilation, chemical contaminates from indoor sources, chemical contaminants from outdoor sources, and biological contaminates. Because the building has served in several different business ventures over decades, the current facilities within the spaces may not be properly ventilated compared to the 15 cfm per person needed. As for the indoor environment, contaminates such as off-gasing from carpeting, paint, and flooring and furniture sealant; pesticides; cleaning products; and equipment. As for the exterior contaminates, they include second-hand cigarette smoke, automobile, and surrounding building exhaust. Biological contaminates can include, but are not limited to pollen, mold, mildew, insects, and viruses.

    -More than likely the space between the dropped ceilings and the rafters has not been properly cleaned during their stay. Large amounts of dust and pollen are located within the space. It possibly includes viruses, mold, and mildew within the areas.
    -Because commercial facilities are typically under tight budgets, it can prevent the purchase of eco-friendly cleaning products. These products reduce the release of toxic fumes found in their typical counterparts.
    -From my personal experience, the space does not seem to be properly ventilated. Certain areas seem warmer and more humid than others. This can lead to the buildup of mold and mildew within the space.
    -VOCs are being released from the carpeting, furniture, and paint used within the spaces.
    -Because the building is older and lacks the updated standards of new construction, it has older pipes and vents.

    4.I believe one of the major issues we can easily solve is the reduction of VOCs within the space. Choosing low VOC products can less the emittance within the space improving the air quality. The dropped ceilings need to be regularly cleaned to prevent any build up of unwanted biological contaminates. Purchasing eco-friendly products can also reduce the VOCs as well. Insuring the HVAC system is regularly checked and cleaned will ensure their situation does not worsen.
    Our group is also looking into incorporating colors which promote calm, concentration, and peace within the space as well as bringing in as much natural light as possible to increase their exposure to natural sun light. Natural light is directly related to a person’s mood. We are also hoping to raise the ceiling height, use frosted glass doors, and skylights to prevent the boxed in feeling within the current spaces.

  11. Tiffany Ward says:

    1. Sick Building Syndrome is a label given to situations in which there is a correlation between a space and unspecified illnesses among the occupants of the building. Symptoms associated with sick building syndrome include headache, cough, skin sensitivity, nausea, and tiredness. Those suffering from SBS often feel relief shortly after leaving the affected space.

    2. The most common causes of sick building syndrome include: indoor air pollution and poor indoor air quality (such as volatile organic compounds from adhesives, paints and other supplies), chemical contamination from outdoors entering the building (such as car exhaust and bathroom fumes), lack of adequate ventilation (usually attributed to ineffective or inadequate HVAC systems), biological contaminants (including moldings, microorganisms, and pollen).

    3. The CAES OIT may suffer from sick building syndrome because of the current set up and location of the ventilation system. The minimal windows in the CAES space do not allow for plentiful fresh air, and even if the windows were more accessible, they are by a parking lot and could potentially bring in more polluted air than fresh air. Furthermore, the HVAC system is located in the parking lot and may be pulling excessively polluted air into the space in the form of heating and air conditioning. Additionally, because the CAES OIT lacks adequate sources of daylight, the sun is not acting as a natural disinfectant to the office spaces. With so many employees confined to an enclosed space, germs are likely to spread and in their current set-up, they are not able to take advantage of the sun killing bacteria. Volatile organic compounds from the copy machines and printers may also contribute to sick building syndrome, especially because the machine space is clustered in the back corner of the offices without any air circulation. Inadequate insulation and thermal control features may make the space an uncomfortable temperature for various employees, potentially leading to colds. Finally, the age of the building and lack of proper upgrades in plumping, furnishings, and cleaning practices may lead to SBS.

    4. In our design, we hope to choose materials with low or no VOCs in hopes of contributing to better indoor air quality. Therefore, when implementing new design, we will not be adding to their existing problem. Because of historical constraints, we will not be able to truly increase the natural lighting, but we will aim to use what little lighting they do have efficiently and supplement with full spectrum lighting that simulate natural light. Additionally, we will try to control acoustical issues and control noise, which could be leading to some of the employees’ headaches and frustration. Finally, we hope to encourage the CAES staff to be more interactive with each other in hopes of creating a more pleasing social environment so some of the emphasis will be taken off of their less than ideal physical location.

  12. Amanda Cook says:

    1. Sick Building Syndrome is when occupants of a building experience negative health symptoms that typically only result while in the building. These symptoms may occur in only part of the building or in the entire building. Symptoms can include eye irritation, headaches, dry cough, dizziness, or nausea. The cause of these symptoms cannot be identified and are usually only present when the occupants are not in the building.
    A similar term is Building Related Illness which is when the symptoms can be attributed to airborne contaminants. Symptoms have definable causes and include cough, chest tightness, fever, chills, and muscle aches. It may take more time after leaving the building for the symptoms to subside.

    2. Common sources of SBS include:
    – Inadequate Ventilation: In 1973 ventilation standards were reduced from 15 cfm per occupant to 5 cfms per occupant to try to reduce energy by reducing the amount of outdoor air allowed into buildings. This was found to be inadequate to the health of occupants of buildings. Inadequate ventilation can occur when heating, ventilating, and HVAC systems do not distribute air properly through the building.
    – Chemical Contaminants from Indoor Sources: Carpets, adhesives, copiers, pesticides, cleaners, and other products emit VOCs into the air which can cause negative health effects in people.
    – Chemical Contaminants from Outdoor Sources: Pollutants from the exterior of a building can enter the interior through the ventilation systems. Things like car exhaust, plumbing vents, and building exhausts from kitchens and bathrooms can enter the building through poorly located windows and vents. Combustible gases can also enter buildings through garages and other sources of entry to the building.
    – Biological Contaminants: Bacteria, molds, pollen, and viruses can enter buildings through insects and be found in stagnant water found in air ducts, humidifiers, and drain pans. These contaminants can cause fever, chest tightness, cough, muscle aches, allergic reactions, and chills.

    3. 5 Reasons the CAES OIT could have SBS:
    – There is a large air conditioning system located right outside of their offices that could be collecting stagnant water and distributing the contaminants into the building.
    – The HVAC system is known to be inadequate for the space which doesn’t circulate the air properly leaving contaminants in the space.
    – The products used in the space were probably not given the proper amount of time to off gas leaving VOCs in the space.
    – Because it is an older building it is not sealed as well so it is easier for contaminants to get into the building.
    – There are large areas in the space such as the ceilings over the offices that are hard to access and are probably not getting properly cleaned therefore collecting contaminants.

    4. Approaches to Minimize the Effects of SBS:
    – Try to create a system to allow better ventilation in the space. This would filter the air better and provide more adequate heating and cooling in the space.
    – Use plants that work well in interior environments and clean the air. These can help with the décor of the space as well as the air quality
    – Help the staff implement better dusting and cleaning habits to get rid of the contaminants that affect the space.
    – Any products brought into the space should be given adequate time to off gas so as to not increase the VOCs in the office.
    – By removing the carpet we can reduce VOCs and contaminant collection. Carpets can collect dust, dander, mold, and bacteria over time which can all affect the health of the people living in the space.
    – We can try and reduce the amount of water build up in places like the HVAC system. If the system is updated and cleaned pipes could possibly be rerouted to reduce the amount of water that collects in the pipes. Drip pans can be cleaned more often as well to reduce the amount of water than can collect contaminants.

  13. Anna Averett says:

    1. What is Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) ?
    Sick Building Syndrome is a condition on the interior of a building in which building occupants experience minor heath problems due to time spent within the building. The source of these problems may be contained in a certain area or they may be found throughout the entire building. Most SBS symptoms are related to inadequate indoor air quality that causes mold, dust and moisture to spread throughout the building due to insufficient air filtration.
    2. What are the most common sources of SBS?
    The most common sources of SBS include: -Inadequate HVAC system (poor ventilation)—caused when the HVAC system fails to deliver enough air to occupants throughout the building, depending on their activities (smoking areas need 3 times as many cfm’s as office spaces). Poor ventilation may also encourage mold growth, which would also poison the indoor environment.
    -Indoor chemical contaminants—Off-gassing from certain building materials and finishes release harmful substances such as VOC’s into the air. Carpeting, adhesives, certain upholstery fabrics, manufactured wood furniture that often contains formaldehyde, copy machines, printers, and cleaning agents. High VOC levels can cause chronic health effects. Also, unvented gas heaters, stoves, and fireplaces can emit combustion products such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
    -Outdoor chemical contaminants—pollutants floating in the outdoor air can easily enter a building through poorly located air intake vents, windows and doors, and other openings. Plumbing vents and building exhausts should be located away from building air intake vents.
    -Biological contaminants include bacteria, molds, pollen and viruses. Locations with highly concentrated areas of moisture such as inside ducts, humidifiers, and drain pans, or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, carpeting, or insulation, are often breeding grounds for these biological contaminants.
    -Insufficient amount of natural light to building occupants may also cause SBS
    3. List 5 possible reasons CAES OIT could have SBS?
    1. Lack of proper ventilation and limited access to windows that would allow for air exchange. Also, pollutants may enter through the large HVAC system and disperse throughout the interiors. 2. Restricted amount of natural light due to poor office space layout that limited the amount of natural light into the office space. This can cause acute health effects and reduce an individual’s productivity. 3. The high number of computer technology per room, and the area with all of the copy machines, and printers release VOC’s into the air. 4. Off-gassing from building materials, carpeting and adhesives, and wood products most likely occurred when the partition walls were being installed. Due to lack of education on the subject, it is highly probable that the harmful VOC’s in these products were not flushed out correctly. 5. The age and mass of the building along with the poor ventilation system may increase the growth of biological contaminants in the ceiling tiles, carpeting, and walls.
    4. What approaches can you take to lessen the effects of SBS in the CAES OIT project?
    In order to lessen the effects of SBS in the CAES OIT office space, we will first come up with innovative ways to let more light into each individual office space. Also, small personal fans or air dehumidifiers in each office would help circulate the air and decrease moisture concentrations. Moreover, we will need to ensure that the server room and printer area, which each have high levels of off-gassing from the machines, will need to be adequately ventilated. When installing the new materials, it will be important to make sure each fabric and finish is properly off-gassed before installation to decrease VOC’s. Proper maintenance and prescribed operating procedure will need to be ensured throughout the space to keep the air clean and the occupants healthy.

  14. Mhyria Miller says:

    1) Sick building Syndrome (SBS) is a term that is given in various situations when the space surrounding the occupants is affecting their health. Symptoms associated with SBS are: nausea, skin sensitivity, headache, cough, and tiredness.

    2) The most common sources of SBS are: lack of adequate ventilation (usually linked to HVAC systems that are ineffective or installed improperly), poor indoor air quality (which would come from VOC’s that are given off in paints, adhesives, etc), biological contaminants (coming from bacteria, viruses, molds, pollen, and insects), and finally chemical contamination from outdoors entering the building (such as car exhaust or other building fumes).

    3) CAES OIT may suffer from SBS because their ventilation system and where it is set up. Because each office is closed off and there are minimal windows in the space we’re working with, it doesn’t allow for fresh air. And if we were able to put more windows in, then we would stand the problem of bringing in outside fumes because of the location of the nearby parking lot. Also, the HVAC system is located in the adjacent parking lot, which more than likely is pulling in outdoor polluted air into the space. Another reason CAES OIT may suffer from SBS would be the lack of sunlight. Because there are a lot of employees in such a small confined space, the chance of germs are more likely to spread without adequate natural light. Last, VOC’s from carpet, printers and copy machines may also pose problems in this building.

    4) Our team’s goal is to choose materials responsibly and only implement those that have little to no VOC’s. One way to do this would be by removing the carpet and use the existing hardwood flooring. Also our team plans on finding ways to implement better ventilation to at least meet minimum code requirement. Also I find it important to educate the clients when we finish the project because ultimately they will have the upper hand in making it a cleaner safer environment in the long run.

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