Pittsburgh 2030 District Indoor Air Quality Pilot Study, Summer 2014


Despite many years of progress, Pittsburgh’s outdoor air quality is still less than desirable.  Good air quality is imperative to personal and regional success, yet people typically spend 90% of their time indoors.  As a result, indoor air quality (IAQ) is just as important as outdoor air – and Green Building Alliance (GBA) is committed to helping Pittsburgh 2030 District properties understand how they can improve and regularly measure and document their indoor air quality improvements to create healthier indoor spaces and more productive employees and occupants.  

Simultaneously, as 2030 Property Partners nationwide work towards increased building energy and water efficiency, there are tradeoffs and benefits for indoor air quality (IAQ) impacts on building occupant health and productivity.

Starting in Spring 2014, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh University will be facilitating a Pittsburgh 2030 District IAQ pilot with Downtown Property Partners in collaboration with GBA. The primary goal of the 2030 IAQ Pilot Study is to begin determining a baseline for IAQ improvements toward 2030-type goals, as well as a scalable IAQ monitoring program that could be standardized for the entire Pittsburgh 2030 District -- and adopted by other 2030 Districts nationwide.

IAQ Pilot

As such, the Pittsburgh 2030 District is currently seeking Property Partner volunteers for an IAQ Pilot Study that will ideally include 3 to 5 properties that represent various aspects of the District’s diverse existing building stock (e.g., year of construction/renovation, square footage, and use type).

The IAQ pilot study will include the following steps:

  1. Initial interview with a property manager, building engineer, or other representative who has a detailed knowledge of the building’s conditions, including HVAC systems.
  2. Deployment of appropriate IAQ monitoring equipment at several mutually agreed locations in the building, and at an outdoor location representative of nearby conditions. Indoor locations will be representative of different building space use types and/or HVAC systems or zones.
  3. IAQ equipment deployment will vary by building and could range from several days to 2 weeks per building -- or several shorter deployment intervals over a time frame of several months. Timing may vary in order to attain representative samples of variable conditions due to weather variability and/or building operations.
  4. Data collection will include a time series of several IAQ measurement variables, which will likely include temperature, humidity, air pressure, carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM), and total volatile organic compounds (TVOC). Measurement of specific VOCs is not anticipated for this pilot study.

Subsequent data analysis will be used to develop relationship models between indoor and outdoor conditions and IAQ attributes.  All property identification information  will be kept confidential to the property owner, and all data collected will remain confidential to the Pittsburgh 2030 District. Any publication of research findings (e.g., academic journals) will be expunged of identifying information.

Funding for this pilot is provided by the National Science Foundation, with additional, dedicated funding requested from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Property Partner Benefits

Property owners may benefit from the IAQ pilot study as follows:

  • Acquisition of detailed building-specific IAQ information at no cost.
    • Identification of potential preventative maintenance concerns (e.g., underperforming HVAC filters).
    • Potential future opportunities to improve occupant comfort and productivity.
  • IAQ data collection may help inform energy analysis by supplementing energy bill data with building area-specific temperature, airflow, and other IAQ data that may shed additional light on energy consumption.
  • Satisfaction of contribution to larger IAQ research study and Pittsburgh 2030 District efforts to elevate IAQ measurement questions nationwide.

Interested Property Partners should contact GBA by April 15, 2014.