IEQ vs IAQ: What's the Difference?

June 06, 2022


IEQ vs. IAQ: Because their acronyms are so similar, these two concepts can easily be confused. In practice, while good indoor air quality or IAQ, is important, it’s just one critical component of creating a comfortable indoor space for occupants. After all, in the classic fairy tale, even if Goldilocks was breathing quality indoor air, if she also found the Three Bears’ home too cold, too dark or too loud – she would still be uncomfortable.

In order to leave a comfortable, indoor space for their little, red-hooded intruder, the Three Bears would have needed to look at all four elements of Indoor Environmental Quality or IEQ:

  • Thermal comfort – How cold am I?
  • Lighting – Is the lighting right for eating porridge?
  • Indoor air quality – What’s in the air I’m breathing while I eat my porridge?
  • Acoustics – Is the bears’ loud HVAC system disrupting my exploration of the home?

IEQ describes how the four elements mentioned above, including IAQ, work together harmoniously to help create optimal indoor spaces. Considering the key aspects of each can help you better understand how they create a complex and interdependent system:

  • Temperature – Thermal comfort represents a key component of creating a stimulating environment that is both comfortable and energy-efficient
  • Lighting –Time-controlled, human-centric lighting sequences that vary in color, temperature, intensity, and other scientific variables tied to our natural circadian rhythms can help building occupants be more productive, learn better and even enhance the healing environment
  • IAQ - Optimized indoor air quality can help reduce the spread of pathogens, microbiologicals and other contaminants by sanitizing recirculating and incoming air.
  • Acoustics - The acoustics of the spaces in which we work, learn and heal also can impact us. Managing the acoustical quality of a commercial HVAC system allows the right amount of ambient sound, enhancing student learning, letting patients rest to optimize healing and facilitating a productive work environment.

When it comes to creating “just right” IEQ for your building, understanding all the environmental factors can help you determine which solutions make the best investments. To help identify the best options for your building, Trane created Wellsphere, a multi-disciplinary collective of experts and a world-class portfolio of products and services that help you put the wellness of those who inhabit your buildings first.

Kasey Boxleitner

About the author
Jeff Wiseman, Indoor Air Quality Portfolio Leader – Trane Commercial HVAC

As the Indoor Air Quality Portfolio Leader for Trane, Jeff leads the development and execution of Trane’s product growth strategy, investment priorities and strategic practices for developing and launching best in class IAQ offerings to address our customers’ indoor environment challenges now and beyond the pandemic. Jeff has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of South Florida and an MBA from Xavier University’s Williams College of Business