Effect of climate change on building design and indoor health

With a significant portion of our lives spent indoors, the health implications are closely linked to the microbial community of bacteria, fungi, and viruses present in our built environment. Variations in climate, design, and materials significantly impact moisture, temperature, and the types of microscopic organisms thriving indoors.


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Research Council of Finland

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Other university or unit

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Project description

The microbiota, comprising bacteria, fungi, and viruses, in the built environment influences indoor air quality, human health, and the structural integrity of buildings. Future processes such as climate changes, novel building designs for energy efficiency, and changes in building materials for sustainability will alter the hygrothermal conditions of buildings, impacting the composition of the microbiota in unknown ways. In Nordic countries, increased periods of moisture and temperature due to climate change could make energy-efficient buildings susceptible to heightened microbial growth, posing negative implications for health and the economy. To understand the interaction between building design, climate, and indoor microbiota, we adopt an interdisciplinary approach merging evolutionary biology, genomics, building physics, and materials science. Through a combination of experimental microcosms, genomics, and numerical simulations, we simulate and quantify the potential impacts of building design and climate change on the composition and function of indoor microbiota. Our focus lies in quantifying the dynamics and evolutionary processes of microbiota in areas where moisture accumulates and microbial communities grow unnoticed, leading to mold problems. This research is crucial as built environments drive the evolution of many organisms globally, and humans spend the majority of their lives indoors, directly affected by the indoor biome's composition and response to climate change and construction practices. Additionally, the combination of microcosm experiments and numerical simulations aids in identifying issues with new builds and retrofits, assisting in "future-proofing" against excessive renovations that affect human health and the economy.