Biowall, sustainability, environmental index, indoor air quality
This paper describes an ongoing field evaluation of a simplified Environmental Index (EI) that provides a homeowner with an intuitive metric for assessing indoor air quality based on regular measurements of temperature, humidity, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). These discrete measurements are used to compute an overall weighted score that correlates with the comfort and health of the living space. Although this environmental index is not a rigorous scientific computation, it is an initial point to improve residents’ understanding of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) by providing active feedback. The context of this environmental index work is the Biowall, a living wall of plants that is integrated into the central air conditioning system of a home to improve IAQ. The environmental index is an opportunity to begin providing a homeowner with real time feedback on comfort, health, and the performance of the Biowall. A simplified graphic user interface was designed using User Experience (UX) principles to provide a graphical presentation of an environmental index score that is easy to interpret and act upon. As expected, the environmental index fluctuates based on occupancy and activities in the space, such as cooking or cleaning. It was found that VOC levels fluctuated the most and thus had the most significant impact on the Environmental Index.