21 September 2020
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has been an area of growing concern with the increasing knowledge of health hazards associated with contaminants, particularly in high occupancy buildings where residents may be exposed to high levels of nuisance dust and other contaminants. Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design (LEED®) certification, which is awarded to buildings that prioritize sustainability and efficient resource use, has been increasingly sought in new construction. As LEED-certified buildings become more commonplace, it is worthwhile to consider whether these new building practices improve IAQ for its occupants. This study compares particulate matter (PM) concentrations in 12 LEED-certified buildings to 12 analogous non-LEED certified buildings on the University of Utah campus. Real-time air sampling was conducted in each building for PM measurements and a Wilcoxon signed rank test was conducted to compare PM levels. A statistically significant difference was found between LEED certification and PM concentrations, with LEED-certified buildings containing, on average, approximately half the PM of their non-LEED counterparts. These findings suggest that LEED certification is worth the financial investment, as it may lead to improved IAQ for residents. However, further research on other contaminants is warranted, including the characterization and comparison of formaldehyde and carbon dioxide levels.