Indoor and Outdoor Environmental Quality


Outdoor air quality

Air quality directives aim to protect the human health and the environment as a whole, currently by avoiding and reducing the emissions in ambient air. These regulations may affect the choice of the right place to build.

The Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe replaced the previous air quality framework legislation into a single directive in 2008 with introduced no change to existing air quality objectives but included air quality objectives for PM2.5 (fine particles).

Air pollution travels over long distances and over national boundaries. In order to limit air pollution responsible for acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone pollution the European Community has policies in place limiting individual sources but also national totals of atmospheric emissions of four pollutants.

Directive 2001/81/EC on National Emission Ceilings for certain pollutants (NEC Directive) sets upper limits for each Member State for the total emissions in 2010 of the four pollutants responsible for acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone pollution (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and ammonia).

The IPCC directive (2008/1/EC) concerns integrated pollution prevention and control on industrial activities.

The VOC Solvents Emissions Directive (1999/13/EC) is the main policy instrument for the reduction of industrial emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the European Union. It covers a wide range of solvent using activities, e.g. printing, surface cleaning, vehicle coating, dry cleaning and manufacture of footwear and pharmaceutical products.

Environmental noise

The European Commission has developed a new framework for noise policy, based on shared responsibility between the EU, national and local level, and including measures to improve the accuracy and standardization of data to help improve the coherency of different actions.

The European Commission adopted a Directive 2002/49/EC in 2002 whose main aim is to provide a common basis for tackling the noise problem across the EU. The underlying principles are to monitor the environmental problem ("strategic noise maps" for major roads, railways, airports and agglomerations, using harmonised noise indicators), inform and consult the public about noise exposure, its effects, and the measures, address local noise issues by requiring an action plans to reduce noise where necessary and maintain environmental noise quality where it is good.

The aim of Directive 2000/14/EC is to harmonize the laws of the Member States relating to noise emission standards, conformity assessment procedures, marking, technical documentation and collection of data concerning the noise emission in the environment of equipment for use outdoors. It will contribute the smooth functioning of the internal market, while protecting human health and well-being.

Indoor air quality and thermal comfort

Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) promotes the improvement of the energy performance of buildings, taking into account outdoor climatic and local conditions, as well as indoor climate requirements and cost-effectiveness. Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that minimum energy performance requirements for buildings or building units are set with a view to achieving cost-optimal levels. These requirements shall take account of general indoor climate conditions, in order to avoid possible negative effects such as inadequate ventilation, as well as local conditions and the designated function and the age of the building.

Based on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive CEN got a mandate to develop a set of standards. Standard EN 15251 specifies indoor environmental input parameters for design and assessment of energy performance of buildings addressing indoor air quality, thermal environment, lighting and acoustics. EN 13779 applies to the design and implementation of ventilation and room conditioning in non-residential buildings intended for human occupancy. It does not apply to industrial process buildings.  Standards can be purchased from the national standardization organizations. General information of EN standards based on EPBD was created in CENSE Project. These information papers are combined to five booklets, like Ventilation and Cooling as well as Heating and Domestic Hot Water Systems.

World Health Organization (WHO) has published Air quality guidelines for Europe. The aim of the guidelines is to provide a basis for protecting public health from adverse effects of air pollutants, to eliminate or reduce exposure to hazardous air pollutants, and to guide national and local authorities in their risk management decisions.

REACH is the European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (EC 1907/2006). It deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances. The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. The REACH Regulation places greater responsibility on industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances.

ENVIE project results show the health effect of deteriorated indoor environment.