Climate Change Hits Home:
Impacts on the Built Environment and Health

Monday, June 18, 2012, 12:00 pm
Building 50 Auditorium
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

YouTube Video | Presentation (PDF, 1.36 MB)

The effects of climate change do not stop at the front door. However, to date there has been little recognition of the potential impacts of climate change on the indoor environment and thus the public's health. Key issues to be discussed include:

  • Potential health consequences of climate-induced alterations in building operation and maintenance practices, including weatherization and energy efficiency efforts.
  • Potential consequences of climate-induced alterations to the indoor environment, including exposure pathways, occupant behavior and disease progression. Some examples are: allergies, asthma, infectious disease, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, aldehydes, polychlorinated biphenyls, molds, reduced ventilation, and heat stress.
  • The segments of society that may be most affected by these consequences: seniors, low income populations, and those with chronic medical conditions
  • The possible role of current government and private sector requirements and guidance—building codes, "green building" certification criteria, professional association standards and the like—in inadvertently exacerbating indoor health problems.
  • Priority issues for action.
John Spengler

John Spengler

Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health & Human Habitation
Harvard School of Public Health and Director of the Sustainability and Environmental Management Program
Harvard Extension School

John Spengler, Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health & Human Habitation at the Harvard School of Public Health and Director of the Sustainability and Environmental Management Program at the Harvard Extension School, has conducted research in the areas of personal monitoring, air pollution health effects, indoor air pollution, and a variety of environmental sustainability issues. Several of his investigations have focused on housing design and its effects on ventilation rates, building materials' selection, energy consumption, and total environmental quality in homes. Spengler chaired the committee on Harvard Sustainability Principles; he served on Harvard's Greenhouse Gases Taskforce to develop the University's carbon reduction goals and strategies; and currently he is a member of Harvard's Greenhouse Gases Executive Committee. He has served on several National Academy of Sciences committees, including chairing the "Green Schools" and the "Effect of Climate Change on Indoor Air Quality and Public Health" committees, and has been an advisor to the World Health Organization on indoor air pollution, personal exposure and air pollution epidemiology. In 2003, Spengler received a Heinz Award for the Environment; in 2007, he received the Air & Waste Management Association Lyman Ripperton Environmental Educator Award; and in 2008, he was honored with the Max von Pettenkofer Award for distinguished contributions in indoor air science from the International Society of Indoor Air Quality & Climate's Academy of Fellows.