Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Shelly Miller

Second Advisor

Michael Hannigan

Third Advisor

Marina Vance

Fourth Advisor

Lupita Montoya

Fifth Advisor

John Adgate

Abstract

Energy-efficiency retrofit (EER) activities can affect home ventilation rates and negatively impact occupant health in low-income households. The work discussed in this dissertation investigates in detail the impacts of EERs along with various household characteristics and environmental conditions on indoor air quality in low-income housing of Colorado. We found that the quality of EERs can vary greatly, and the distribution of annual average air exchange rates in homes with EER are not significantly different than the homes without the EERs. We also found that window weather-stripping and furnace ductwork sealing should be prioritized more than door and window caulking and foam-sealing of cracks and openings while performing EERs. Significant amount of indoor dust and odor were reported in leakier homes located close to major roads. We also found that outdoor particulate matter (PM) and black carbon (BC) were higher in concentration than indoors at least 50% of the time due to the influence of both long-range wildfire plumes and traffic emissions, and the indoor concentration of PM showed monotonic rise with increasing plume cover particulate density. Indoor nitrogen dioxide was primarily dominated by the presence of gas stove more than any other factor. We concluded that heat recovery ventilation (HRV) systems integrated with air filtration systems can greatly reduce the infiltration of PM and BC in homes, yet provide an energy-efficient way of adequate ventilation.

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