Designing Panelized Systems to Minimize Impact on Indoor Air Quality in Tightly-Sealed Buildings
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
*John C. Little, Principal Investigator
Start: September 15, 2001
The use of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) to create very tight building envelopes will help achieve PATH's goals of simultaneously reducing the environmental impact and improving the energy efficiency of new and existing homes. Typically, SIPs use oriented strand board and rigid foam in a multi-layered, sandwich-like structure. Although environmental advantages make these panelized systems very attractive, the tighter building envelope construction may degrade indoor air quality. For example, formaldehyde, other aldehydes, and terpene hydrocarbons are commonly found in new manufactured and site-built houses, and these compounds are associated with strong sensory irritation. The release of these contaminants must therefore be taken into account when designing homes constructed with SIPs.
A diffusion model that predicts emissions from single-layer materials has recently been developed and successfully validated. A logical and very promising extension of this approach is to apply the model to predict emissions from multi-layer systems like SIPs.
This research will characterize emissions from the individual layers used in the fabrication of SIPs; independently measure the model parameters for the different material layers; validate the single-layer model by comparing predicted emissions to observations obtained in experimental chamber studies; extend the single-layer model to a composite multi-layer model with boundary conditions appropriate for SIPs construction; validate the multi-layer emissions model for SIPs, with and without the presence of an installed barrier material; and use the multi-layer model to optimize the position and properties of barrier materials that can be used to significantly reduce emissions from other advanced panel systems.
This research builds on an existing and successful partnership with Alfred Hodgson of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and forges a new collaboration with Dr. Daniel Dolan, Professor and Director of the Center for Integrated Systems in Housing at Virginia Tech, thereby ensuring rapid translation of fundamental research into practical applications.
To view additional details on this NSF award, click here.
Content updated on 3/18/2004