Indoor Environmental Quality, Human Health, and Productivity

Faculty in the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering conduct fundamental and applied research on the interactions between humans and the indoor environment to improve the health and productivity of building occupants. Research topics include the impact of improved indoor environment quality considering acoustical properties, including background noise and reverberation; lighting design aspects, such as spectral optimization; indoor air quality, such as characterization and control of particulates in the indoor air; and use of germicidal ultraviolet light to disinfect air and surfaces.

Research labs focused on this research area:

Current research in progress includes the following:

(funding bodies in parentheses; Penn State architectural engineering faculty names bolded)

  • Sensible home: Individualized comfort modeling via wearable sensors (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), Julian Wang
  • Interactions between visual and thermal qualities (Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment), Julian Wang, Anne-Marie Chang, Javad Khazaei
  • Effects of smart lighting and glazing systems in reducing agitation in nursing homes (Brown University and National Institutes of Health), Ying-Ling Jao, Julian Wang
  • NSF CAREER: Understanding of the emission, transport, and transformation of airborne particles in buildings (National Science Foundation), Donghyun Rim
  • Dynamic behavior of virus aerosols around a human body in response to building ventilation and air mixing (National Science Foundation), Donghyun Rim
  • Modeling of indoor gas-phase and surface-phase chemistry using computational fluid dynamics simulations (University of California, Irvine and Alfred E. Sloan Foundation), Donghyun Rim
  • Chemistry of indoor environments program at indoor air 2020 (Alfred E. Sloan Foundation), Donghyun Rim
  • Tunable lighting in health care centers (U.S. Department of Energy), Alp Durmus, Bob Davis, Jessica Collier
  • Environmental noise and effects on office workers (GN Resound), Michelle Vigeant, Stephen Thompson
  • Optical radiation as an engineering control for SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses (Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment), William Bahnfleth, Suresh Kuchipudi, James Freihaut, Richard Mistrick, Donghyun Rim
  • Development of a wearable sensor to measure time‐stamped data on light exposure for use in research into the non‐visual effects of light (Penn State College of Engineering), Richard Mistrick, Gregory Huff
  • Ultraviolet-germicidal irradiation for control of COVID-19 in university classrooms (Penn State Office of Physical Plant), Richard Mistrick, Donghyun Rim, William Bahnfleth, James Freihaut, Alp Durmus
  • Characterizing the performance of multi-primary LED systems (start-up funding), Alp Durmus, Michael Royer, Douglas Baxter
  • Developing a lighting application efficacy framework (U.S. Department of Energy), Alp Durmus, Wendy Davis, Wenye Hu
  • Reducing the energy consumed by lighting with gaze-dependent illumination. (Australian Research Council), Wenye Hu, Wendy Davis, Alp Durmus
  • An experimental and simulation investigation of advanced oxidation and ultraviolet light deactivation of airborne viruses (Trane Technologies Corporation), James Freihaut, William Bahnfleth
  • Improving the Models and Understanding of the Indoor Contaminant Transportation (Defense Threat Reduction Agency via Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), Wangda Zuo
  • Assessing Human Health and Well-being with the WELL Building Standard (Delos Living LLC), Wangda Zuo, Jennifer Scheib
  • Modelica-ISAT-FFD for Coupled HVAC and Airflow Simulation (U.S. Department of Energy via Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), Wangda Zuo
  • HVAC operation strategies to mitigate the COVID virus impact and their impact on energy consumption, carbon emission and operational cost (Start-up funding), Wangda Zuo
  • Assessing Human Health and Well-being with the WELL Building Standard (Delos Living LLC), Wangda Zuo, Jennifer Scheib


Globally recognized as a leading architectural engineering department, the mission of the Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State is to advance the built environment through the development of world-class architectural engineers and research. The vision of the Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State is to lead the world in innovative education and research to achieve high-performing built environments. Our program emphasizes the scientific and engineering aspects of planning, designing, and constructing buildings, providing our architectural engineering graduates with outstanding education and research opportunities. 

Department of Architectural Engineering

104 Engineering Unit A

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-6394