Particulates and pollutants such as formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can accumulate inside buildings and during construction. Formaldehyde is a widely used component in adhesives and insulation and as a preservative in paint. It is a known carcinogen and can cause allergies, especially in children. VOCs are a class of carbon-based gases emitted from solvents in adhesives, paints, cleaning products, pesticides, and fabrics. VOCs affect indoor and outdoor air quality. Sunlight reacts with VOCs, which creates ground-level ozone.

Without proper ventilation and filtration, pollutant levels in the air and water can increase and pose health risks.

Healthier Indoor Air by Ventilation and Filtration

To control indoor air quality, Recurve (formerly Sustainable Spaces) installed two heat recovery ventilators (HRV). The heat recovery ventilators draw fresh air in and expel stale air out of the house. The streams of air are pulled into the HRV in opposite directions. An aluminum core separates the two streams of air and transfers heat between them. In the winter, the outgoing stale air warms the incoming air. In summer, the heat transfer is reversed.

Pleated air filters remove any solid particulates from the air and registers vent the air throughout the house. A remote exhaust fan provides quiet operation for the bathrooms and laundry room. A whole-house air filter is in constant clean mode, running 24 hours a day.

Healthier Water by Filtration

City of Palo Alto water enters the home and runs through a Filtron whole-house point-of-entry (POE) water filtration system designed by Recurve. The filtration system uses electrically charged carbon to absorb Chloramines and other contaminants and softens the water. Hard water does not pose any health threat but removing the minerals from the water eliminates scaly buildup and prolongs the life of the plumbing system.

Old plumbing systems often have contaminants in the pipes. The original lead pipes were removed and replaced with new copper pipes that were wrapped with insulation that is formaldehyde free, low VOCs, fiber free, dust free and resists mold and mildew.

Healthier Indoor Air by Eliminating Contaminants

Non-green building components such as adhesives from plywood, carpet binders, paints, floor finishes, and wood treatments contain chemicals that emit harmful fumes that irritate the nose, eyes, and throat.  Project Manager Lynn Kingsbury chose materials that would not pose any health risk to people working on the house during the renovation and living in the house after.

Recurve found asbestos, often used as a fire retardant, in the venting ducts during their environmental assessment. When inhaled, it can cause lung cancer and can form scar tissue. Trained professionals removed the asbestos.

No-VOC paint was used on all the walls, including in the mechanical room. In the kitchen, Timeline Design installed Pacific Crest cabinets made with particle board manufactured from recycled fiber with no formaldehyde, hazardous air pollutants, and extremely low levels of VOCs. In the kitchen and bathrooms, TorZo and ConcreteWorks countertops are low VOC and do not contain formaldehyde.

Mechanical ventilation, and air and water filtration systems freshen and clean the air and water. Surfaces and building components with no or low levels of known contaminants help air quality inside and outside the house.