29 July 2013 — The University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning is bringing together a team of indoor environmental quality researchers to deliver a first-of-a-kind continuing professional development subject.

The subject will be taught across five consecutive Thursdays starting August 1. The unit comprises four days of lectures followed up with a full day of hands-on work in state-of-the-art IEQ lab, acoustics lab and lighting lab.

High performance buildings strive to reduce their impact on their environment by reducing embodied and operational resource inputs, but they also aim to minimise negative impacts on their occupants by creating a healthy, comfortable, and productive indoor environment. A quantitative assessment of IEQ has emerged in the last five years as a major activity across the high performance building sector, in this country and abroad.

Indoor environmental quality parameters include acoustics, lighting, indoor air quality and thermal comfort, which have been directly linked to building energy consumption. For example, the single largest energy end-use in a commercial building is heating, ventilation and airconditioning. It typically accounts for 50-60 per cent of a building’s annual energy and it is all about thermal comfort and indoor air quality.

Numerous research studies have drawn causal links between poor IAQ and a cluster of non-specific workplace ailments collectively referred to as Sick Building Syndrome. Other researchers have recently suggested that office-worker productivity decrements can be attributed to poor IEQ, although this is contentious due to the difficulty of validly quantifying productivity.

But the link between IEQ and comfort is unequivocal. High performance building advocates are quick to point out that an office worker who is not distracted or irritated by poor lighting, thermal discomfort, unwanted noise and poor air quality, is much more likely to be performing optimally than her/his counterparts in an uncomfortable work environment. And since personnel represent the overwhelming majority of business costs (orders of magnitude more than building or energy costs), occupant comfort cannot be ignored.

See the information brochure for more information.

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