Title: Sick Building Syndrome on the University of Toronto St. George Campus
Date of publication: 2000
URL: www.cquest.utoronto.ca/env/envh421h/HealthyUT/SickBldg/index.html
Authors: Vanita Economou, Trudy Jones, Christina Lee, Suzanne Smith, Queenie Yip
Bibliographic info: Downloadable computer document (.html), accessible through the URL above. Study by students of course ENV421H, the final course required for Majors and Specialists in the Division of the Environment at the University of Toronto. The study was performed for the U of T Centre for Health Promotion, Environmental Protection Advisory Committee, and Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
Publisher: University of Toronto
Abstract: Students performed building walkthroughs on three identified ‘potentially sick’ buildings to assess building health and set up a model for assessing building health on the U of T campus. They identified the process of how building complaints are registered and handled at the University of Toronto St. George Campus, and assessed the procedure in terms of public awareness, accessibility, and action. Their report includes recommendations for the Healthy U of T committee, and other interested parties as to what actions or improvements can be undertaken to improve the building complaint process, and to also reduce or prevent health problems in sick buildings.

They concluded that poor building designs, especially those constructed during the energy crisis of the 1960s, are a major cause of the sick building syndrome on the University of Toronto St. George campus. These "air-tight", controlled-climate designs contribute to the poor air quality found amongst the three buildings of study. A common problem found in the three buildings is poor space management, which often results from lack of communication between the office occupants, building managers, and Facilities and Services. The lack of space contributes to hallways and ventilation grills being used as storage spaces. This leads to poor air ventilation in the limited space on campus. Additionally, lack of funding for building managers to effectively respond to building issues is a significant barrier to improving the health of indoor environments, along with bureaucracy. In addition, there is a need for more effective coordination and communication between University departments.

In order to manage the usage of the complaint process and to effectively use the University procedures forprotecting the environmental health, improvement of the complaint process is a necessity. Improvements to both thecomplaint process and usage of building space must incorporate attitudes, which shape people’s perceptions ofbuilding health at the University. There remains a need to develop a greater understanding of people’s perceptionssince they are likely the root cause of the sick building syndrome. Further research by more experienced researchersis recommended to enhance the understanding of the interconnected relationship between building users, their health and their perceptions of their indoor building environment and its effects on their health.

Additional Notes:
Keywords: indoor air quality, IAQ, lighting, temperature, walkthrough, interviews, hypersensitivity, tolerance, health, productivity, management, ventilation
Record Last Revised: Record #94, revised 1/18/2001

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