Research Fellows Directory
Dr Peter Walker
University of Bath
Decreasing the energy consumption of buildings requires significant improvements in air-tightness, to prevent uncontrolled heat losses, combined with much higher insulation levels. However, an unintended consequence of this approach has been deterioration in indoor air quality, resulting from the significantly reduced ventilation rates and the accumulation of airborne pollutants. This is proving to be a significant bottleneck to successful implementation of EU legislation for the development of lower carbon buildings. Airborne pollutants include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulates, and microbiological agents (fungal spores, moulds, viruses, bacteria). The effects of these pollutants are exacerbated by high humidity levels that also build up as a result of reduced ventilation rates. Many modern synthetic buildings often further contribute to the problem through the introduction of pollutants such as VOCs.
The research project aims to address the problems of poor indoor environmental quality in modern buildings through developing the science in use of low emission hygrothermal (moisture responsive) building materials. The scientific works aims to control internal relative humidity and pollutant levels. The research requires multi-disciplinary collaboration between material scientists and engineers, chemists, microbiologists and IAQ specialists, will develop novel hygrothermal and VOC capture materials and new photocatalytic coatings for indoor surfaces.
Controlling internal RH to between 40-60% will have significant health benefits for occupants through risk reduction to contaminants including mould and bacteria
growth. The work will also reduce embodied energy of new materials by 15-20%. VOCs and formaldehyde levels in indoor air will be reduced. These benefits
combined will improve health and well-being of building occupants and contribute to societal needs to significantly reduce carbon emissions attributed to building
construction and occupation.