Buildings that are more energy-efficient are also better for their occupants’ health and comfort, according to researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
By analysing data from 95 air-conditioned buildings across the US, researchers Mark Mendell and Anna Mirer found that structures that were overcooled in summer or overheated in winter had more occupants reporting discomfort, headaches, fatigue and eye, nose and skin symptoms.
They also found that many buildings in summer kept temperatures even lower than in winter, although people are generally more comfortable with warmer temperatures in the summer months.
“As we look for ways to save energy, these results suggest a potential win-win situation,” Mendell said. “Our findings suggest that energy efficiency and keeping buildings healthy and comfortable for the occupants are not necessarily in conflict. Less summer cooling in air-conditioned buildings and less winter heating in heated buildings might reduce energy use in buildings substantially, yet have health benefits for the occupants that we did not expect, and still keep occupants as comfortable as before or even more comfortable.”