Indoor Air Quality

Designing buildings for better indoor air quality

Dec 5, 2022

Boost your IAQ knowledge with National Gypsum Company’s continuing education course: A Healthy Building Blueprint


Whether it’s the office, school, gym, airport or grocery store, Americans spend 90% of their time on average inside, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher than typical outdoor air pollution concentrations.

That’s why it’s essential to design buildings for optimal indoor air quality, which can play a role in reducing sick days, enhancing mood and boosting productivity for workers and test scores for students. Clean indoor air is one part of overall indoor environmental quality that encompasses all conditions that affect occupant health, including acoustics, lighting, climate control and ergonomics.

Learn more about designing for better indoor air quality with National Gypsum’s continuing education course, A Healthy Building Blueprint: How to Improve Indoor Air Quality for Occupants.

Healthy Blueprint CEU Course
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Upon completion of this CEU, participants should be able to:

  • Identify sources of indoor air pollution and discuss the impact of indoor air pollution on human health.
  • Describe the benefits of maximizing indoor air quality that contribute to healthier indoor space and help reduce the concentration of indoor air pollutants for occupants.
  • Identify how specifying products that meet sustainable design criteria such as LEED, Living Building Challenge and WELL Building Standard can positively impact building occupants.
  • Apply IAQ strategies to projects through successful implementation of standards that promote sustainable design and construction.

What pollutants can be found indoors, and what are their causes?

Common indoor air quality problems can be tied to inadequate ventilation, contaminants inside the building and contaminants coming from outside the building. Indoor air contaminants include:

  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Inorganic and organic particulates and allergens
  • Formaldehyde and aldehydes
  • Inorganic and combustion gasses
  • Mold and mildew

Indoor air quality matters during construction and after the building is completed and occupied. During construction, it is essential to seal off ventilation ducts to avoid construction dust from getting inside them and to properly ventilate the work site. Using products such as ProForm® Lite with Dust-Tech® can decrease dust by up to 60% during interior finishing. Plus, all ProForm finishing compounds are mold and mildew resistant and carry either UL GREENGUARD or UL GREENGUARD GOLD certification for low-VOC emissions.

Indoor air contaminant emission sources inside the building include:

  • Materials used in wall construction, including wood, sheathing, paint and wallcoverings
  • Flooring
  • Textiles used on furnishings
  • Equipment such as computers, copiers and monitors
  • Casework

Do sustainable building programs include credits for indoor air quality?

Low VOC products PDF
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Three of the most prominent sustainable building programs, LEED, WELL Building Standard® and Living Building Challenge, have credits connected to indoor air quality. Here’s what they look for:

  • LEED: The low-emitting materials credit intends to reduce chemical contaminant concentrations that can harm human health, productivity and the environment.
  • WELL Building Standard: The standard emphasizes the use of low-VOC-emitting materials in the construction of the building.
  • Living Building Challenge: This program requires low-VOC-emitting materials to be used and follows up with a post-occupancy indoor air quality test to confirm inside air meets stringent health standards.

Which products provided by National Gypsum contribute to healthy indoor air quality?

Interior gypsum board, cement board and finishing products provided by National Gypsum Company can contribute to credits earned for indoor air quality in LEED, WELL Building Standard and Living Building Challenge.

Most products provided by National Gypsum are UL GREENGUARD or UL GREENGUARD Gold certified for low chemical emissions and have been engineered to be mold, mildew and moisture resistant. For interior gypsum board, choose mold-resistant materials. For example, the PURPLE family of gypsum board products have been engineered with enhanced mold and mildew resistance, including SPORGARD® technology, and are also UL GREENGUARD Certified.

GPS laptop logo

Use the Green Product Score calculator to create a report based on project location and selected products from Gold Bond Building Products, ProForm Finishing Products and PermaBASE Building Products.

Green Product Score reports include documentation required by sustainable building programs, including:

What are the costs of poor indoor air quality?

Improving indoor air quality could result in cost savings from enhanced worker performance to reduced disease levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the following cost savings associated with IAQ enhancements:

  • $14 billion from reduced respiratory disease
  • $4 billion from reduced allergies and asthma
  • $30 billion from reduced sick building syndrome
  • $160 from direct improvements in worker performance unrelated to health

Improving indoor air quality is essential to improving the way people live, work and play. Boost your knowledge with National Gypsum’s continuing education course, A Healthy Building Blueprint: How to Improve Indoor Air Quality for Occupants.

SPORGARD® is a registered trademark of LANXESS Deutschland GmbH, Germany.

The color Purple is a registered trademark of Gold Bond Building Products, LLC.