University of Oregon researchers and industry partners will study 72 homes in Portland and Bend to explore how the microbial environments in and around homes change when whole-house weatherization projects are implemented. They will be looking for impacts on human health.
“What’s unique about this project is the way it attempts to link microbial composition and health-related factors with energy conservation and design practices like daylighting and natural ventilation,” said the grant's lead investigator, professor G.Z. "Charlie" Brown, director of the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory in UO's Department of Architecture.
The work is being done under a newly awarded $1 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of the agency's Science to Achieve Results program and Indoor Air and Climate Change initiative. In all, the EPA announced funding to nine institutions for projects looking at the effects of climate change on indoor air quality and resulting health effects.
Brown's laboratory and the Institute for Ecology and Evolution in the Department of Biology are teaming with the Eugene-based Oregon Research Institute and Clean Energy Works Oregon, the state's largest nonprofit home performance provider, on the project.
The UO’s Sloan Foundation-funded Biology and the Built Environment Center, where Brown has served as a co-director, also will be involved. Center scientists will document microbial communities in indoor and outdoor zones of the houses used in the study.
The project's co-lead investigator Deborah Johnson-Shelton of the Oregon Research Institute will survey 218 households in the two cities. Participants will be selected from those planning home weatherization improvements with the support of Clean Energy Works Oregon.
More complete details are available at: UO architecture researchers get $1 million to study indoor air quality.