How renovation activities may jeopardise indoor air quality: accounting for short and long-term symptoms of sick building syndrome in educational buildings

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The study discussed how building renovation activities jeopardised Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and caused several symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This postulation was investigated on a case study-renovated university building with different types of functional spaces. The research method comprised: (1) site inspection for renovation best practices, (2) Gas Chromatography lab tests to examine the types of pollutants (volatile organic compounds) caused by different types of finishing and comparing them to the international standards provided by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and finally (3) occupants’ survey (labourers, staff and students) with variations in the magnitude and duration of their exposure to pollutants. The result of the lab tests exceeded the maximum threshold set by the LEED system which indicated a health risk. This was confirmed by the survey results showing associated symptoms of SBS during and after the renovation process noting that the symptoms escalated in confined places with poor ventilation. The conclusion indicated that material selection and renovation best practices were responsible for several health risks. Associated symptoms of SBS increased due to early occupancy and continued for three months after renovation completion. Eventually, the study recommended proper planning for IAQ during building renovation noting the interplay of causes and consequences of SBS: (1) during building renovation, (2) after completion, (3) before occupancy and (4) after at least one year of building operation. Further, it presented a set of recommendations for each phase across different project phases for the benefit of academic and industry outreach.