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Building Science

How Much of Your Life Do You Spend in Buildings?

The answer shows the importance of indoor air quality

The "Corsi Code" is a table that presents professor Richard Corsi's data on where we spend our time.

Back in 2004, as I was immersing myself in the world of building science and green building, I took the U.S. Green Building Council’s exam to become a LEED Accredited Professional.  I bought their book.  I took a study course at Southface to prepare for the test.  And that’s when I learned a statistic that has haunted me ever since.

From the study guide, I learned that we humans spend, on average, about 90% of our time in buildings.  I couldn’t believe it at first.  Then I started thinking about my days and how I spend them.  A third of my time in bed.  Most meals indoors.  A lot of time sitting at desks, watching movies, showering…

I reluctantly had to admit that I probably did spend close to 90% of my time indoors.  But that’s not all.  That doesn’t mean all the rest of the time is outdoors.  Nope.  We also spend quite a bit of time in vehicles of one sort or another.

That statistic has stuck with me all these years.  I’ve occasionally wondered about the research behind it, but not enough to go look up the source.  At this year’s Building Science Summer Camp, however, it was given to us by Dr. Brett Singer in his talk on indoor air quality.

Singer’s first slide after the title was the one on the Corsi Code, which you see above.  Dr. Richard Corsi is an indoor air researcher who’s done a lot of good work and apparently shows that statistic in a slightly different way.  Rather than put it in percentages, he put everything in years based on the average life span of someone in the U.S. (79).

The Corsi Code isn’t where the data came from, but Dr. Singer did…

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One Comment

  1. User avater
    Ethan ; Climate Zone 5A ; ~6000HDD | | #1

    Well I'm sitting on an outdoor table with a laptop right now... I'll remember this statistic... just like I try to take the stairs instead of the elevator... I'll try to be outdoors when I can. I believe there is a great fear of outdoors... a great fear of sweating, a great fear of being uncomfortable. Sensationalist weather reporting doesn't help.

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