Indoor air quality (IAQ)

'Indoor air quality can be defined as the totality of attributes of indoor air that affect a person’s health and well being' (Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment).

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is one of many contributing factors to indoor environment quality that requires a holistic approach to building design. An adequate exchange of indoor air is required to maintain indoor air quality, whether by natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation or a combination. Natural ventilation that relies only on natural air movement can save significant amounts of energy by reducing the need for mechanical ventilation and air conditioning.

The focus of this note is the architectural duty of care in relation to IAQ and to the assigning of liability in the event of a problem with air quality in a building. Refer Environment notes on indoor environment quality, natural ventilation, passive design and material selection for guidance on improving IAQ outcomes through design consideration.

Architects have a professional responsibility for the health, safety, comfort and productivity of building occupants as well as to produce a good quality design. Indoor air pollution has been the subject of litigation both in Australia and overseas. There has been discussion comparing IAQ to cases of health problems associated with external pollution sources and it has been suggested that impacts may be even more significant because of the concentration of pollutants within enclosed spaces. 

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