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Sustainability and Indoor Environmental Quality

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2024 | Viewed by 9586

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
1. Chair of Buildings and Constructional Complexes, Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering, University of Ljubljana, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
2. Center for Holobiome and Built Environment (CHOBE), Hiroshima University, 1-3-2 Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima City, Hiroshima 739-8511, Japan
Interests: design of healthy, comfortable, and sustainable buildings

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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Sciences, Jožef Stefan Institute, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Interests: indoor and outdoor air quality

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Guest Editor
Center for the Planetary Health and Innovation Science (PHIS), The IDEC Institute, Hiroshima University, 1-3-2 Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima City 739-8511, Hiroshima, Japan
Interests: microbial ecology; microbial genomics; metagenomics; holobiome; microbiome of the built environment; bioaerosol; culture methods; biotic and abiotic interaction
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Office of Industry-Academia-Government and Community Collaboration, Hiroshima University, 1-3-2 Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima City, Hiroshima 739-8511, Japan
2. Center for Holobiome and Built Environment (CHOBE), Hiroshima University, 1-3-2 Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima City, Hiroshima 739-8511, Japan
Interests: microbial ecology; interaction; microbes in the built environment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

An intervention in the built environment can be sustainable if it has no negative impacts on health and the environment. In today’s era of extensive building construction and renovation, health and well-being criteria are often disregarded or only given secondary importance. Poor indoor air quality, dampness, pathogenic microbes/microbiome dysbiosis, excessive noise and poor room acoustics, lack of daylight, non-ergonomics, and several architectural barriers are problems of indoor environmental quality (IEQ), which occupants face on a daily basis. They are recognized as important risk factors for human health and must be prevented and controlled; otherwise, they may result in adverse health effects, sick building syndrome, or even building-related illness. Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that unhealthy living and work environments account for almost 23% of all deaths in the WHO European Region.

This Special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050) titled “Sustainability and Indoor Environmental Quality” provides an international forum for the dissemination of the latest original research, achievements, and developments in many areas of the built environment, sustainability, and all fields of IEQ. It covers the whole life cycle of residential and non-residential buildings and their operating systems. The Special Issue aims to provide a multidisciplinary forum for researchers, designers, users, and manufacturers involved in the different fields of sustainability and IEQ issues in relation to occupant health and comfort.

The Special issue will publish articles in the following fields:

- assessment of sustainability aspects and building certification schemes

- indoor air quality; climate; ventilation efficiency concerning measured and/or simulated chemical pollutants; indoor-outdoor correlations

- ionizing and non-ionizing radiation (e.g., radon and progeny); dosimetry

- microbes' impacts on human health; characteristics of the microbiome; microbiome and environmental interactions and interventions (plants, pets, etc.); analysis tools

- noise in the living environment; noise issues related to operation equipment; room acoustics

- thermal comfort concerning sustainable design

- daylight for health and efficiency

- the influence of household activities, user behavior and habits, heating appliances, building materials, cleaning agents/air-fresheners/candles/ on indoor air quality (e.g., nano aerosols)

- mutual analysis of building energy efficiency and IEQ issues; the effect of construction materials (building type, age, etc.) on IEQ

- cost–benefit analyses; decision making in relation to IEQ

- risk assessment; health outcomes

- advanced measuring techniques; multisensory equipment

- efficiency of environmental health and engineering measures; control and prevention of epidemiological risks (COVID, etc.)

A sustainable building presents the work of a multidisciplinary team, where each individual plays an important, responsible, and indispensable role in it. Research helps us with that understanding.

Dr. Mateja Dovjak
Prof. Dr. Janja Vaupotic
Prof. Dr. Fumito Maruyama
Dr. So Fujiyoshi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • indoor air quality
  • ventilation
  • microbes
  • sustainable development
  • sustainability indicators
  • thermal comfort
  • noise
  • acoustics
  • universal design
  • ergonomics
  • health
  • well-being

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

13 pages, 3345 KiB  
Article
Noise Isolation System for Indoor Industrial Ventilation
by Pedro Escudero-Villa, Patricio Fonseca-Gonzales and Jéssica Núñez-Sánchez
Sustainability 2023, 15(11), 9083; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15119083 - 5 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1732
Abstract
The prevalence of hearing loss among workers in Ecuador is concerning, with up to 40% affected. One of the root causes is the lack of insulation in sources of noise generation. This study presents a practical solution to reduce noise contamination in indoor [...] Read more.
The prevalence of hearing loss among workers in Ecuador is concerning, with up to 40% affected. One of the root causes is the lack of insulation in sources of noise generation. This study presents a practical solution to reduce noise contamination in indoor industrial facilities and to extend the usability of functional old equipment by enabling the addition of accessories, specifically in the sanding and classification areas of an agglomerate manufacturing industry. An isolation camera was designed and implemented using a combination of insulating materials to reduce the noise of a main ventilator and to ensure compliance with local noise regulations. The design and simulation were carried out using CAD tools and the finite element method (FEM) to ensure a simple assembly design, and the camera was manufactured using rapid prototyping tools with lightweight and cost-effective materials, such as wood, foam, and metal. The camera was tested in situ, and its effectiveness was evaluated through functional tests and noise level measurements. The implementation of the camera resulted in a 16% reduction in pressure noise and a 95% reduction in noise frequency. With the additional use of earmuffs, the pressure reduction improved to 44%. These values ensured that noise levels remained 27% below the limit set by Decree 2393, significantly reducing the impact of noise on workers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Indoor Environmental Quality)
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16 pages, 3661 KiB  
Article
Overlooked Impacts of Urban Environments on the Air Quality in Naturally Ventilated Schools Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Kristijan Lavtižar, Alenka Fikfak and Rok Fink
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 2796; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15032796 - 3 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1451
Abstract
The density, form, and dimensions of urban morphology are important for healthy living conditions in cities, especially if they are related to the climate and air pollution. Morphology and environmental conditions determine the relationship between open and built space, the width of street [...] Read more.
The density, form, and dimensions of urban morphology are important for healthy living conditions in cities, especially if they are related to the climate and air pollution. Morphology and environmental conditions determine the relationship between open and built space, the width of street spaces, the aerodynamic characteristics of wind currents, albedo, and the retention of pollutants, as well as determining the radiative exchange with the atmosphere. Studies on the COVID-19 pandemic have focused on the assumption of a possible relationship between the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the presence and concentration of airborne particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). This paper focuses on the research of indoor air quality (IAQ) in two schools with naturally ventilated classrooms in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The presence of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and the concentration of CO2 were studied, along with other microclimatic conditions, e.g., ambient temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, and wind conditions. These were compared and assessed via analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Duncan’s post hoc test. The main concern was to see how effective different ventilation strategies are, as well as how the openings in the classroom impact the concentrations of CO2 relative to the concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 particles as a side effect of these ventilation strategies. The inconsistent application of recommended COVID-19 ventilation strategies suggests that IAQ in naturally ventilated classrooms is highly determined by individual perceptions of indoor air quality. The results also suggest that the IAQ is significantly affected by the schools’ urban environment; however, this is not considered within the national COVID-19 ventilation recommendations. Future ventilation guidelines for pandemics should also include the urban environment as a risk factor for inadequate IAQ, instead of focusing solely on pathogen characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Indoor Environmental Quality)
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23 pages, 20091 KiB  
Article
Estimation of Indoor Temperature Increments in Summers Using Heat-Flow Sensors to Assess the Impact of Roof Slab Insulation Methods
by Yutong Li, Atsushi Teramoto, Takaaki Ohkubo and Akihiro Sugiyama
Sustainability 2022, 14(22), 15127; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142215127 - 15 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1749
Abstract
Improving the thermal insulation performance of buildings is crucial for saving energy. Currently, the insulation performance can be quantified based on the thermal resistance and thermal transmittance (U-value). However, for owners, these data are not readily available for the verification of different insulation [...] Read more.
Improving the thermal insulation performance of buildings is crucial for saving energy. Currently, the insulation performance can be quantified based on the thermal resistance and thermal transmittance (U-value). However, for owners, these data are not readily available for the verification of different insulation methods. To address this, a solution could involve establishing a connection between specialized evaluation indicators and temperature, a common physical quantity. In this study, static and dynamic heat-transfer experiments were performed using an environmental simulation chamber and heat-flow sensors. Based on the tests, a simple predictive formula for the heat-flow density over time was established. After analyzing a full-scale building model, six cases of the heat-flow density versus temperature rise in indoor environments were obtained. This approach may aid owners in visually assessing the insulation performance of buildings by establishing a conversion relationship between the heat-flow density and temperature. In addition, the performance of 14 experimental specimens, including self-developed and code-documented thermal insulation materials and construction methods, was evaluated. In the simulations, after turning off indoor cooling equipment for 6 h during hot summers, the average indoor temperature increase for a roof with insulation was only 52% of that without insulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Indoor Environmental Quality)
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18 pages, 1231 KiB  
Article
Analyzing the Perception of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) from a Survey of New Townhouse Residents in Dubai
by Mohammad Arar and Chuloh Jung
Sustainability 2022, 14(22), 15042; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142215042 - 14 Nov 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1910
Abstract
According to UAE Health Ministry and Dubai Healthcare City reports, 15% of Dubai residents have a chronic respiratory disease such as asthma. Moreover, 90% of the 150,000 patients at Al Ain Hospital suffered from upper respiratory tract respiratory diseases, bronchitis, or asthma. Sick [...] Read more.
According to UAE Health Ministry and Dubai Healthcare City reports, 15% of Dubai residents have a chronic respiratory disease such as asthma. Moreover, 90% of the 150,000 patients at Al Ain Hospital suffered from upper respiratory tract respiratory diseases, bronchitis, or asthma. Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) has emerged as a social problem in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Dubai Municipality regulates Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) with strict stipulations before moving in, but they are relatively passive about regulations related to healthy living. This paper aims to explore the actual state of perception of the IAQ from townhouse residents in Dubai, UAE. The characteristics of the resident’s perceptions of the IAQ are identified, and the influential factors affecting residents’ perceptions of IAQ are extracted. As a methodology, the survey was conducted on four townhouse projects in Dubai from December 2021 to January 2022. A total of 114 copies were distributed, and 98 documents were used. Analysis of the survey data was processed using IBM SPSS Statistics 26.0. The results showed a statistically significant correlation between the cognitive and anxiety levels of SBS with the presence or absence of experience. It was statistically confirmed that the most influential factors were the age of the children and the occupancy time of housewives and children. This is because of the perception that wives who spend a relatively long time in the house and their young children are exposed to indoor air pollution for a long period of time and are easily affected by this influence on the concerns about young children about SBS. Ninety-five percent of the respondents answered that they knew more than average about SBS, indicating a very high level of awareness. As for the degree of anxiety, 87.0% of the respondents felt higher levels of anxiety than usual. However, most of them did not know or were indifferent to the understanding of the air quality improvement methods. The awareness of actual contents was lower than that of residents who assessed that they knew about SBS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Indoor Environmental Quality)
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Review

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19 pages, 1053 KiB  
Review
Utilisation of Machine Learning in Control Systems Based on the Preference of Office Users
by Thayane L. Bilésimo and Enedir Ghisi
Sustainability 2024, 16(10), 4258; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16104258 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 257
Abstract
Reducing energy consumption is vital to save natural resources and contribute to the sustainable development in any sector of society. In the building sector, there are many well-known energy efficiency strategies currently being applied. However, considering the advances in technology and in comfort [...] Read more.
Reducing energy consumption is vital to save natural resources and contribute to the sustainable development in any sector of society. In the building sector, there are many well-known energy efficiency strategies currently being applied. However, considering the advances in technology and in comfort studies, it is possible to see that the current building sector scenario demands new energy efficiency strategies. Such strategies need to be capable of identifying and assuring comfortable environments according to users’ perceptions. Machine learning techniques can be a useful alternative to identify users’ preferences and control lighting and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in buildings. This paper shows a systematic literature review on the use of machine learning algorithms on preference identification and environmental adequacy according to users’ demands. Its contribution is to explore beyond the performance and configurations of the algorithms, addressing users’ preference aspects as well. The strategies found in the literature provided promising results. The most used approach was supervised learning because data can be treated as categories. In general, the control systems have shown good performance, and so have the algorithms. Users were mostly satisfied with environmental conditions. Situations of dissatisfaction were associated with the occupant’s willingness to use the system more than with the control system’s performance. Furthermore, it is also possible to ally user-centred control and energy savings but this relies on occupants’ characteristics and the control strategies used. We underline the importance of identifying whether the users are willing to deal with an automatic control system before making any decision, even if the operation of the system is based on their preferred environmental conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Indoor Environmental Quality)
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42 pages, 5127 KiB  
Review
Radon and Its Short-Lived Products in Indoor Air: Present Status and Perspectives
by Janja Vaupotič
Sustainability 2024, 16(6), 2424; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16062424 - 14 Mar 2024
Viewed by 764
Abstract
Initially, basic equations are given to express the activity concentrations and concentrations of potential α-energies of radon (222Rn) and thoron (220Tn) and their short-lived products in indoor air. The appearance of short-lived products as a radioactive aerosol is shown, [...] Read more.
Initially, basic equations are given to express the activity concentrations and concentrations of potential α-energies of radon (222Rn) and thoron (220Tn) and their short-lived products in indoor air. The appearance of short-lived products as a radioactive aerosol is shown, and the fraction of the unattached products is particularly exposed, a key datum in radon dosimetry. This fundamental part is followed by giving the sources of radon and thoron indoors, and thus, their products, and displaying the dependence of their levels on the ground characteristics, building material and practice, and living–working habits of residents. Substantial hourly, daily, and seasonal changes in their activity concentrations are reviewed, as influenced by meteorological parameters (air temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind speed) and human activity (either by ventilation, air conditioning and air filtration, or by generating aerosol particles). The role of the aerosol particle concentration and their size distribution in the dynamics of radon products in indoor air has been elucidated, focusing on the fraction of unattached products. Intensifying combined monitoring of radon short-lived products and background aerosol would improve radon dosimetry approaches in field and laboratory experiments. A profound knowledge of the influence of meteorological parameters and human activities on the dynamics of the behaviour of radon and thoron accompanied by their products in the air is a prerequisite to managing sustainable indoor air quality and human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Indoor Environmental Quality)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Assessment of the impact on indoor thermal environment by roof slab insulating methods
Authors: Li Yutong 1; Atsushi Teramoto 1; Takaaki Ohkubo 1; Akihiro Sugiyama 2
Affiliation: 1 Hiroshima University; 2 Dyflex Co.Ltd.
Abstract: To be continued

Title: Overlooked impacts of Urban Environments on the Air Quality in Naturally Ventilated Schools amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Authors: Kristijan Lavtižar, 1,* Alenka Fikfak 2, and Rok Fink 3
Affiliation: 1 University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Architecture, Zoisova street 12, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia 2 University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Architecture, Chair of Urbanism, Zoisova street 12, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia 3 University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Health Sciences, Zdravstvena pot 5, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Abstract: The density, form and dimensions of urban morphology are important for healthy living conditions in cities, especially if they are related to the climate and air pollution. Morphology determines the relationship between open and built space, the width of street spaces, the aerodynamic characteristics of wind currents, albedo, the retention of pollutants and determines the radiative exchange with the atmosphere. Since the pandemic of COVID-19, studies have focused on the assumption of a possible relationship between the spread of COVID-19 and the presence and concentration of airborne particulate matter, PM10 and PM2.5. Contribution of pandemic ventilation strategies to indoor air quality and thus children exposure to pollutants has received little attention in science The paper focuses on the research of indoor air quality in two schools with naturally ventilated classrooms in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The presence of particulate matter PM2.5, and PM10 and the concentration of CO2 were studied, as well as other microclimate conditions e.g., ambient temperature, relative humidity, air pressure and wind conditions. These were compared and assessed with the ANOVA and pot hoc Duncan test. The main concern was to see how effective separate ventilation strategies are and how the opening of openings in the classroom impacts the concentrations of CO2, relating to the concentration PM2,5, and PM10 particles as a side effect of these ventilation strategies. Finally, the locations of each school were compared within their urban environment, on the results of the air quality measurements. The inconsistent application of COVID-19 ventilation strategies recommendations suggests for IAQ in natural ventilation in classrooms is highly determined by an individual’s perception of IAQ. The results also suggest the IAQ was significantly affected by the schools' urban environment; however, this was not considered within the national COVID-19 ventilation recommendations.
Keywords: indoor air quality; PM2.5 concentration; CO2 concentration naturally ventilated schools; school urban environment; COVID-19 preventive measures.

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