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Mold Uninvited Guest in Some Energy Efficient Buildings

February 18, 2014 By Leon Walker

moldDespite their obvious money-saving and environmental benefits, energy efficient buildings can also be perfect habitats for mold, reports Gizmodo.

Canada’s Alberta Court of Appeals was abandoned in 2001 following an energy efficiency retrofit that unintentionally created the perfect habitat for mold. Shortly after the renovation judges and attorneys began complaining of tiredness, watery eyes and irritated lungs – all a product of the mold, air quality samples discerned.

It turns out that the pre-renovation building’s drafts and leaks had provided a crude form of  air quality control, wicking moisture away from the building and inhibiting mold growth. The new, sealed-up version of the building, however, trapped moisture in creating a breeding ground for mold, the website reports.

The court eventually moved to a different building, but, to this day, anyone accessing the court’s hard-copy files has to wear a respirator, the website reports.

Earlier this month,  The Rocky Mountain Institute released a paper claiming that so called “deep energy retrofits” provide substantially greater energy savings — often reducing a building’s energy consumption by up to 50 percent — than traditional retrofits and other building efficiency upgrades, but they still receive far less attention and capital than they deserve.

This lack of attention is partly due to a narrow definition of their value, typically focused on energy cost savings alone, as well as the confusion and uncertainty around how to calculate, present and justify such additional value streams as part of a retrofit capital request, according to How to Calculate and Present Deep Retrofit Value: A Guide for Owner-Occupants.

Picture credit: Mold in a corner, via Shutterstock



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