Review

2018 Better Buildings by Design Conference, Flu and Colds

BBD

Efficiency Vermont held its annual Better Buildings by Design conference on February 7 and 8, 2018, and we were pleased to participate with Ty’s presentation “Is Your Home Making You Sick and Tired?”. Vermont continues to be a national leader in progressive home design and building, and with its challenging climate, especially with this year’s bitter cold spells, is a great proving ground for high performance home technologies.

Some of the new trends evident at this year’s BBD are more mini-split heat pumps and the conference’s emphasis on healthy homes. Just a few years ago, only one mini-split heat pump manufacturer was exhibiting at the BBD. This year, a half dozen were on display, with an ever increasing range of performance. Today’s low temperature mini-split heat pumps are now exceeding -22F operation temperatures with 100% of nameplate heating capacity!

And healthy home topics have moved to center stage as more and more designers and builders understand how to build durable, well-sealed, and well-insulated homes, and they have now turned their focus on ensuring a healthy indoor environment. Of the 41 sessions, 13 sessions were listed under “healthy homes”, 8 sessions listed under “building systems”, 7 sessions under “commercial buildings”, 7 sessions under “lighting”, and 6 sessions listed under “envelope”.

Coincident with Ty’s presentation on Thursday, the February 8, CBS News interviewed Professor Milton about his ground breaking research into tracking the sources of airborne disease transmission. We regularly cite Professor Milton’s work. For example, under the “Health” icon on the Build Equinox website is a paper by Professor Milton in which ventilation rates and sick days were investigated in a study of over 3000 employees. The bottom line is that one can cost effectively double ASHRAE 62.1 ventilation rates and reduce sick leave by 1.5 days per employee! Of course, a sick employee often goes home and makes their family sick.

Flu and Colds

This season’s strain of flu has been worse than we’ve experienced in many years. The vaccine is less effective than expected, and the flu’s virulence is stronger than usual. One of the most effective preventatives against contracting the flu and cold viruses is fresh air! Lots of fresh air! How much? Doubling ASHRAE’s basic ventilation rates (nominally 20 cubic feet per minute per person) to 40cfm per person reduces the probability of contracting flu and cold viruses. Another tip is to go outside and get some fresh air directly. It’s great stuff, and the more you go outside, the less you need to ventilate inside. With a CERV smart ventilation system, when you’re away, ventilation is automatically reduced, and when you’re there, it increases to the level you desire.

Chicken soup healing is not a myth!

Unfortunately, we can’t control all our surrounding environments. Those that are poorly managed, such as the commercial aircraft Ty flew from Philadephia to Burlington Vermont for the BBD conference with 1551ppm of CO2, will continue to make us sick.

When this happens, try some chicken soup. Research has shown that chicken soup may be more than a placebo. Rennard, et al (B.O. Rennard, R.F. Ertl, G.L. Gossman, R.A. Robbins, MD, and S.I. Rennard, MD, “Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro”, CHEST 2000; 118:1150–1157) report that chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory compounds that contribute to healing and soothing upper respiratory track inflammations. Carefully controlled laboratory experiments demonstrated that homemade chicken soup as well as a variety of store bought brands (but not all store bought soups) have varying levels of beneficial activity. Clarified (centrifuged) broth was found to have the anti-inflammatory benefits, indicating that chicken soup’s medicinal compounds are in solution rather than in the solids of the soup.

The research study’s authors note that Grandma’s care is also strong medicine.

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