While residential energy and ventilation standards aim to improve the energy performance and indoor air quality (IAQ) of homes, their combined impact across diverse residential activities and housing environments has not been well-established. This study demonstrates the insights that a recently-developed, freely-available coupled IAQ-energy modeling platform can provide regarding the energy and IAQ trade-offs of weatherization (i.e., sealing and insulation) and ventilation retrofits in multifamily housing across varied indoor occupant activity and mechanical ventilation scenarios in Boston, MA. Overall, it was found that combined weatherization and improved ventilation recommended by design standards could lead to both energy savings and IAQ-related benefits; however, ventilation standards may not be sufficient to protect against IAQ disbenefits for residents exposed to strong indoor sources (e.g., heavy cooking or smoking) and could lead to net increases in energy costs (e.g., due to the addition of continuous outdoor air ventilation). The modeling platform employed in this study is flexible and can be applied to a wide range of building typologies, retrofits, climates, and indoor occupant activities; therefore, it stands as a valuable tool for identifying cost-effective interventions that meet both energy efficiency and ventilation standards and improve IAQ across diverse housing populations.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $19.83 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Persily AK, Emmerich SJ. Indoor air quality in sustainable, energy efficient buildings. HVACR Res. 2012;18:4–20.
US Energy Information Administration. Drivers of US household energy consumption, 1980–2009. US Department of Energy; 2015.
Logue J, Sherman M, Walker I, Singer B. Energy impacts of envelope tightening and mechanical ventilation for the US residential sector. Energ Build. 2013;65:281–91.
Emmerich SJ, Reed CH, Gupta A. Modeling the IAQ impact of HHI interventions in inner-city housing. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology; 2005. Contract No.: NISTIR 7212
Underhill LJ, Fabian MP, Vermeer K, Sandel M, Adamkiewicz G, Leibler JH, et al. Modeling the resiliency of energy efficient retrofits in low‐income multifamily housing. Indoor Air. 2018;28:459–68.
Fabian P, Adamkiewicz G, Levy JI. Simulating indoor concentrations of NO(2) and PM(2.5) in multifamily housing for use in health-based intervention modeling. Indoor Air. 2012;22:12–23.
Sundell J, Levin H, Nazaroff WW, Cain WS, Fisk WJ, Grimsrud DT, et al. Ventilation rates and health: multidisciplinary review of the scientific literature. Indoor Air. 2011;21:191–204.
Hamilton I, Milner J, Chalabi Z, Das P, Jones B, Shrubsole C, et al. Health effects of home energy efficiency interventions in England: a modelling study. BMJ Open. 2015;5:e007298.
Fabian MP, Stout NK, Adamkiewicz G, Geggel A, Ren C, Sandel M, et al. The effects of indoor environmental exposures on pediatric asthma: a discrete event simulation model. Environ Health. 2012;11:66.
Sharpe RA, Thornton CR, Nikolaou V, Osborne NJ. Higher energy efficient homes are associated with increased risk of doctor diagnosed asthma in a UK subpopulation. Environ Int. 2015;75:234–44.
ASHRAE. ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2 ventilation and acceptable indoor air quality in residential buildings. Atlanta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc.; 2016.
ASHRAE. ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES standard 189.1-2014. Standard for the design of high-performance green buildings except low-rise residential buildings. Atlanta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. and U.S. Green Building Council; 2014.
U.S. Green Building Council. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). 2018. https://new.usgbc.org/leed.
U.S. EPA. Energy savings plus: indoor air quality guidelines for multifamily building upgrades. Washington, DC: U.S. EPA Office of Radiation and Indoor Air; 2016.
Underhill L, Fabian M, Vermeer K, Sandel M, Adamkiewicz G, Leibler J, et al. Modeling the resiliency of energy-efficient retrofits in low-income multifamily housing. Indoor Air. 2018;28:459–68.
U.S. Census Bureau. Total population in occupied housing units by tenure by units in structure. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau 2008-2010 ACS; 2010.
Noris F, Adamkiewicz G, Delp WW, Hotchi T, Russell M, Singer BC, et al. Indoor environmental quality benefits of apartment energy retrofits. Build Environ. 2013;68:170–8.
Ueno K, Lstiburek JW. Field testing of compartmentalization methods for multifamily construction. Westford, MA: Building Science Corporation and U.S. Department of Energy; 2015.
Ross L, Jarrett M, York D. Reaching more residents: opportunities for increasing participation in multifamily energy efficiency programs. Washington, DC: Amercian Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy; 2016.
Giovino GA, Schooley MW, Zhu B-P, Chrismon JH, Tomar S, Peddicord JP, et al. Surveillance for selected tobacco-use behaviors—United States, 1900–1994.1994.
Moorman JE, Rudd RA, Johnson CA, King M, Minor P, Bailey C, et al. National surveillance for asthma–United States, 1980–2004. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2007;56:1–54.
Colton MD, MacNaughton P, Vallarino J, Kane J, Bennett-Fripp M, Spengler JD, et al. Indoor air quality in green Vs conventional multifamily low-income housing. Environ Sci Technol. 2014;48:7833–41.
Coombs KC, Chew GL, Schaffer C, Ryan PH, Brokamp C, Grinshpun SA, et al. Indoor air quality in green-renovated vs. non-green low-income homes of children living in a temperate region of US (Ohio). Sci Total Environ. 2016;554-555:178–85.
Frey SE, Destaillats H, Cohn S, Ahrentzen S, Fraser MP. The effects of an energy efficiency retrofit on indoor air quality. Indoor Air 2015;25:210–9.
Wilson J, Jacobs D, Reddy A, Tohn E, Cohen J, Jacobsohn E. Home Rx: the health benefits of home performance: a review of the current evidence. Columbia, MD: U.S. Department of Energy; 2016.
Francisco PW, Jacobs DE, Targos L, Dixon SL, Breysse J, Rose W, et al. Ventilation, indoor air quality, and health in homes undergoing weatherization. Indoor Air. 2017;27:463–77.
Dols WS, Polidoro BJ. CONTAM User Guide and Program Documentation Version 3.2. NIST Technical Note 1887. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology; 2015.
Shrubsole C, Ridley I, Biddulph P, Milner J, Vardoulakis S, Ucci M, et al. Indoor PM2.5 exposure in London's domestic stock: Modelling current and future exposures following energy efficient refurbishment. Atmos Environ. 2012;62:336–43.
Laverge J, Van Den Bossche N, Heijmans N, Janssens A. Energy saving potential and repercussions on indoor air quality of demand controlled residential ventilation strategies. Build Environ. 2011;46:1497–503.
Taylor J, Shrubsole C, Biddulph P, Jones B, Das P, Davies M. Simulation of pollution transport in buildings: the importance of taking into account dynamic thermal effects. Build Serv Eng Res T. 2014;35:682–90.
Dols WS, Emmerich SJ, Polidoro BJ. Using coupled energy, airflow and indoor air quality software (TRNSYS/CONTAM) to evaluate building ventilation strategies. Build Serv Eng Res T. 2016;37:163–75.
McDowell TP, Emmerich S, Thornton JW, Walton G. Integration of airflow and energy simulation using CONTAM and TRNSYS. ASHRAE Transactions. 2003;109:757–70.
Nouidui TS, Wetter M, Zuo W. Functional mock-up unit for co-simulation import in EnergyPlus. J Build Perform Simul. 2014;7:1–11.
MODELISAR. Functional mock-up interface for co-simulation. MODELISAR consortium. Report No.: ITEA2-07006. MODELISAR; 2010.
Fazli T, Stephens B. Development of a nationally representative set of combined building energy and indoor air quality models for US residences. Build Environ. 2018;136:198–212.
Crawley DB, Lawrie LK, Winkelmann FC, Buhl WF, Huang YJ, Pedersen CO, et al. EnergyPlus: creating a new-generation building energy simulation program. Energ Build. 2001;33:319–31.
US Department of Energy. EnergyPlus™ Version 8.9.0 Documentation. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois; 2018.
Deru M, Field K, Studer D, Benne K, Griffith B, Torcellini P, et al. US Department of Energy Commercial Reference Building Models of the National Building Stock. Report No.: NREL/TP-5500-46861. Golden, Colorado: National Renewable Energy Laboratory; 2011.
Dols WS, Emmerich SJ, Polidoro BJ. Coupling the multizone airflow and contaminant transport software CONTAM with EnergyPlus using co-simulation. Build Simul-China. 2016;9:469–79.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Ventilate Right: ventilation guide for new and existing california homes, Step 4. Whole-Building Ventilation Type. U.S. Department of Energy. https://homes.lbl.gov/ventilate-right/step-3-whole-building-ventilation-rate. Accessed January 15, 2018.
Klepeis NE, Apte MG, Gundel LA, Sextro RG, Nazaroff WW. Determining size-specific emission factors for environmental tobacco smoke particles. Aerosol Sci Technol. 2003;37:780–90.
Burke JM, Zufall MJ, Özkaynak H. A population exposure model for particulate matter: case study results for PM2.5 in Philadelphia, PA. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2001;11:470.
Klepeis NE, Nazaroff WW. Modeling residential exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. Atmos Environ. 2006;40:4393–407.
Long CM, Suh HH, Catalano PJ, Koutrakis P. Using time-and size-resolved particulate data to quantify indoor penetration and deposition behavior. Environ Sci Technol. 2001;35:2089–99.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory. National Solar Radiation Data Base. 1961–1990: Typical Meteorological Year 2 (TMY2). Boston Station 14739. http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/1961-1990/tmy2/. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Delp WW, Singer BC. Performance assessment of US residential cooking exhaust hoods. Environ Sci Technol. 2012;46:6167–73.
Lunden MM, Delp WW, Singer BC. Capture efficiency of cooking‐related fine and ultrafine particles by residential exhaust hoods. Indoor Air. 2015;25:45–58.
Singer BC, Delp WW, Price P, Apte M. Performance of installed cooking exhaust devices. Indoor Air. 2012;22:224–34.
ASHRAE. ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2016. Energy standard for buildings except low-rise residential buildings. Atlanta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc; 2016.
R Core Team. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing; 2017. http://www.R-project.org/
U.S. Energy Information Administration. State Energy Data System (SEDS): 2017. https://www.eia.gov/state/seds/seds-data-fuel-prev.php. Accessed October 31, 2018.
ASHRAE. 2017 ASHRAE Handbook—Fundamentals: Chapter 16. Atlanta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE); 2017.
Milner J, Hamilton I, Shrubsole C, Das P, Chalabi Z, Davies M, et al. What should the ventilation objectives be for retrofit energy efficiency interventions of dwellings? Build Serv Eng Res T. 2015;36:221–9.
Logue JM, Singer BC. Energy impacts of effective range hood use for all US residential cooking. HVAC&R. Research. 2014;20:264–75.
Montgomery JF, Reynolds CC, Rogak SN, Green SI. Financial implications of modifications to building filtration systems. Build Environ. 2015;85:17–28.
Walker IS, Dickerhoff DJ, Faulkner D, Turner WJ. System effects of high efficiency filters in homes. Berkeley, CA, United States: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL); 2013.
Stephens B, Novoselac A, Siegel JA. The effects of filtration on pressure drop and energy consumption in residential HVAC systems (RP-1299). HVACR Res. 2010;16:273–94.
Fabi V, Andersen RV, Corgnati S, Olesen BW. Occupants' window opening behaviour: a literature review of factors influencing occupant behaviour and models. Build Environ. 2012;58:188–98.
Levy JI, Woo MK, Tambouret Y. Energy savings and emissions reductions associated with increased insulation for new homes in the United States. Build Environ. 2016;96:72–9.
Logue JM, Turner WJ, Walker IS, Singer BC. A simplified model for estimating population-scale energy impacts of building envelope air tightening and mechanical ventilation retrofits. J Build Perform Simul. 2016;9:1–16.
US Energy Information Administration. Residential energy consumption survey (RECS) 2013. https://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/data/2009/index.php?view=consumption.
Baxter LK, Clougherty JE, Laden F, Levy JI. Predictors of concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, fine particulate matter, and particle constituents inside of lower socioeconomic status urban homes. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2007;17:433–44.
Van Deusen A, Hyland A, Travers MJ, Wang C, Higbee C, King BA, et al. Secondhand smoke and particulate matter exposure in the home. Nicotine Tob Res. 2009;11:635–41.
Wallace L, Williams R, Rea A, Croghan C. Continuous weeklong measurements of personal exposures and indoor concentrations of fine particles for 37 health-impaired North Carolina residents for up to four seasons. Atmos Environ. 2006;40:399–414.
Markley J, Harrington C. Modeling ventilation in multifamily buildings. Davis, CA: UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center; 2014.
Kowalski WJ, Bahnfleth WP. MERV filter models for aerobiological applications. Air Media. 2002;2002:13–7.
This research was supported in part by an Early Stage Urban Research Award from the Boston University Initiative on Cities and grants T32 ES014562 and R01ES027816 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, T32HL007534 from the National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health and MAHHU0008-12 from United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of sponsor organizations.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Underhill, L.J., Dols, W.S., Lee, S.K. et al. Quantifying the impact of housing interventions on indoor air quality and energy consumption using coupled simulation models. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 30, 436–447 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-019-0197-3
- Indoor air quality
- Building simulation
- Multifamily housing