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Proceedings of Healthy Buildings 2000, vol 4, pp 23-34.
SIY Indoor Air Information, Helsinki, LBNL-48218
Review of Health and Productivity Gains From Better IEQ
William J. Fisk
Indoor Environment Department, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA.
The available scientific data suggest that existing technologies and procedures can improve
indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in a manner that significantly increases productivity and
health. While there is considerable uncertainty in the estimates of the magnitudes of
productivity gains that may be obtained, the projected gains are very large. For the U.S., the
estimated potential annual savings and productivity gains are $6 to $14 billion from reduced
respiratory disease, $2 to $4 billion from reduced allergies and asthma, $10 to $30 billion
from reduced sick building syndrome symptoms, and $20 to $160 billion from direct
improvements in worker performance that are unrelated to health. Productivity gains that are
quantified and demonstrated could serve as a strong stimulus for energy efficiency measures
that simultaneously improve the indoor environment.
KEYWORDS: Air quality, Energy conservation, Health effects, Infectious disease,
Based on the available literature and analyses of statistical and economic data, Fisk and
Rosenfeld  estimated the annual productivity gains in the U.S. potentially achievable from
improvements in indoor environmental conditions that reduce health effects or directly
improve worker performance. An updated and much longer review will be published as a
book chapter . This conference article summarizes the updated analyses, incorporates
additional updates, and reviews implications for building energy efficiency.
Relevant papers were identified through computer-based literature searches, reviews of
conference proceedings, and discussions with researchers. The evidence supporting or
refuting hypothesized linkages of IEQ with health and productivity was synthesized.
Communicable respiratory illnesses, allergies and asthma, and acute non-specific health
symptoms often called sick building syndrome symptoms were identified as categories of
health effects for further consideration. The economic costs of these adverse health effects
were estimated, primarily by synthesizing and updating the results of previously published
cost estimates. The economic results of previous analyses were updated to 1996 to account
for general inflation, health care inflation, and increases in population . The next and most
uncertain step in the analysis was to estimate the magnitudes of the decreases in adverse
health effects and the magnitudes of direct improvements in productivity that result from
improved indoor environments. These estimates are based on the published data
characterizing the strength of associations between indoor environmental characteristics and
health outcomes, and on our understanding from building science of the degree to which
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Fisk, William J. Review of health and productivity gains from better IEQ, article, August 1, 2000; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc782978/m1/2/: accessed August 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.