The late sixties, early seventies ushered a new era into many facets of our lives. The rising cost of oil and uncertainty of supply made it necessary to evaluate what we had taken for granted for many years. The October of 1973 Arab oil embargo sent oil prices rocketing while shortening oil supplies. This caused building owners/operators to search for more reliable, less expensive ways to heat and cool large commercial spaces. The solution it seemed was to create a sealed building envelope thereby limiting the amount of infiltration and ventilation air to the minimum.
National energy conservation measures called for a reduction of outside air to 5 CFM per building occupant from 10 CFM. Most experts incorrectly believed this would be sufficient ventilation to ensure adequate health and comfort. The reduction in expensive OA resulted in a large increase in occupant complaints traced to their time at their workplace. Symptoms included nose or throat irritation, headache, dry cough, itchy skin, sensitivity to odors, nausea, and eye discomfort. Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), as it became known sickened 221 people and killed 34 others at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Later discoveries concluded the contamination occurred through their air conditioning system.[Read more…]