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Research Questions

  1. How widespread are problems related to poor indoor climate in European homes, differentiating between working-age population, children and the elderly?
  2. What is the evidence in terms of existing studies and literature concerning the relationship and impact of indoor climate on the health of adults?
  3. What is the impact of poor indoor climate hazards on well-being? How can this impact be expressed in monetary terms?
  4. What would be the economic implications (risks and benefits) associated with reducing adults' and children's exposure to poor indoor climate?

There is strong evidence that a poor indoor climate has a significant impact on people's health and well-being, and that in turn has wider socio-economic consequences, such as via its impact on work attendance, productivity and performance.

Four indoor hazards in particular were identified and used in the analysis: Damp and mould; Noise pollution; Indoor temperature (excess cold), and; Lack of daylight.

The objective of this study was to undertake a detailed analysis of the impact of the indoor climate across all age groups in the EU and the UK, Norway and Switzerland. For this purpose, the study team utilised the following:

  • A targeted data review of the key factors associated with indoor climate hazards.
  • A targeted literature review focusing on identifying and assessing evidence from existing systematic reviews and other relevant sources on the relationship between poor indoor climate, the health of particular population groups, and the wider socio-economic costs related to these hazards.
  • Well-being valuation analysis estimating the relationship between well-being, life satisfaction and the indoor climate.
  • Macroeconomic modelling assessing the economic implications of adults' exposure to particular indoor climate hazards in terms of productivity and wider societal costs, conducted using a multi-country computable general equilibrium (CGE) model.

Key Findings

Prevalence of poor indoor climate in Europe

Across the EU, UK, Switzerland and Norway (EU27+):

  • 13 per cent of the population live in a dwelling with damp or rot.
  • 18 per cent of the population live in a household affected by noise pollution.
  • 7 per cent of the population are unable to keep their home adequately warm.
  • 5 per cent of the population consider their home to be too dark.

The well-being effects from indoor climate hazards

There is a strong link between a poor indoor climate and health impacts. In addition, living with indoor climate hazards was found to be associated with lower levels of life satisfaction:

  • 1.6 per cent lower for damp in a dwelling.
  • 1.1 per cent lower for lack of daylight in a dwelling.
  • 0.6 per cent lower for noise in a dwelling.
  • 3.9 per cent lower for excess cold in a dwelling.

The economic effects from indoor climate hazards

The macroeconomic cost associated with exposure to damp and mould and the lack of daylight in residential buildings up to 2050 would be about EUR 53 billion. Furthermore, improving ventilation rates in offices could lead to an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by up to EUR 180 billion. Finally, improving access to daylight in offices could lead to a cumulative increase in EU27+ GDP of up to EUR 200 billion.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for VELUX Group and conducted by RAND Europe.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.