The air you breathe in your office building can have a significant effect on both the health and productivity of building occupants.
If you’re an office building owner or manager then it’s important to make sure your tenants have a healthy and comfortable working environment. Unfortunately, many office buildings have poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). This can cause a number of problems for tenants, including health issues, decreased productivity, and even hostile work environments. However, there are steps you can take to improve your building’s IAQ.
In this post, we’ll discuss seven of them. Keep reading to learn more!
What is indoor air quality (IAQ)?
The EPA defines Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) as the air quality of air in and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Simply put, IAQ is the condition of indoor air compared to outdoor air. It consists of a number of factors, including temperature, humidity, indoor pollutants (gases and airborne particles), CO2 levels, and the freshness/ventilation of indoor air.
What Causes Poor IAQ In Office Buildings?
There are many things that can cause indoor air quality problems in an office building. The most common causes are:
Naturally Occurring Pollutants – These include mold, dust, fungi, and pollen. These substances can have a negative impact on both old and new indoor environments. They are especially harmful to individuals who suffer from asthma or other allergies.
Chemical Pollutants – Office furniture, wall and floor coverings, upholstery, and practically every commercially manufactured item in your workplace emit chemical pollutants, especially when new. Chemical pollutants include solvents,, formaldehyde, and Volatile organic compounds (VOC)s. These types of indoor air quality problems are particularly common in commercial office buildings where the interior is regularly treated with chemical cleaners, painting supplies, disinfectants, etc.
Poorly Performing HVAC Systems – A poorly performing HVAC system can lead to indoor air quality problems if it’s unable to remove indoor pollutants from the building efficiently. These types of problems may be more common in older buildings, but can also happen in new buildings.
Human Sources – A major indoor source of pollutants is the people who work within your office building. Bodily heat and moisture are released into the indoor environment via workers’ breath, perspiration, skin cells. Other indoor sources of chemicals include cosmetics, perfumes/colognes/other scented products used on a daily basis on-site by your employees.
What are the negative effects of poor indoor air quality on building occupants?
Poor indoor air quality has been linked to many health problems. These include sneezing, eye irritation nausea, fatigue, and decreased productivity due to occupant discomfort. Poor indoor air quality can also lead to sick building syndrome (SBS). SBS describes the indoor environmental conditions that result in illness, discomfort, irritation, or reduced productivity among individuals in a building or indoor environment.
How Can Poor Air Quality In Office Buildings Be Improved?
There are many things you can do to make your indoor environment cleaner and healthier. Here are some of the most effective:
HVAC Maintenance and Upkeep
Regular HVAC maintenance and upkeep can significantly improve IAQ in an office environment. Proper maintenance involves regular testing, cleaning, and inspections of indoor environments by certified HVAC technicians. By performing routine maintenance, you can ensure that indoor pollutants are removed efficiently and effectively.
Keep the workplace clean
Effective indoor air quality starts with the simple act of keeping your indoor space clean. This means sweeping, vacuuming, and dusting indoor floors (including under indoor furniture) on a daily basis. Using a commercial cleaning service is a great option if you don’t have the time or expertise to do it on your own.
Conduct regular air quality testing
Having the indoor air tested regularly can help identify pollutants in your commercial environment. This will allow you to identify areas that are particularly affected by poor IAQ. You can then use this information to make better decisions about cleaning, indoor air purification, and HVAC maintenance efforts.
Improve humidity levels in indoor environments
Maintaining proper humidity levels in office environments can help improve indoor air quality. An optimal humidity level is between 30% and 50%. Areas with extremely low or high humidity levels should be identified by commercial office building occupants and reported to their building manager immediately for corrective action. Humidifiers or dehumidifiers should be used as necessary to maintain indoor humidity levels.
Indoor plants to improve air quality
Plants are natural indoor air purifiers. This is why indoor plant life is crucial when it comes to improving indoor air quality. They should be placed in strategic areas throughout your commercial office building where ventilation is strong enough to ensure indoor pollutants are filtered out by the indoor plant life before being reintroduced into the environment via windows or HVAC system filters.
Choose indoor building materials wisely
Choosing environmentally friendly or healthier indoor material options can also help you improve indoor air quality. When you use environmentally friendly building materials in your commercial office space you reduce the risk of exposing building occupants to indoor pollutant emissions from these new interior surfaces. Indoor materials like carpeting, floor finishes, and paint all emit pollutants that can be harmful to indoor air quality if they are not manufactured responsibly. Improving indoor air quality is easy when you choose indoor building materials that are healthier for indoor environments, including low-VOC paints, zero VOC adhesives & sealants, and natural stone flooring.
Invest in indoor air purification systems
The indoor air quality in your office building will vastly improve if you invest in indoor air purification systems such as HEPA filters. These systems remove indoor pollutants such as dust, dander, bacteria, mold, viruses, chemical vapors (e.g., formaldehyde), tobacco smoke particles, etc. from indoor environments via filtration mechanisms installed within your HVAC system. By regularly replacing HEPA filters to ensure maximum indoor pollutant removal efficiencies are maintained by your indoor HVAC system, the overall indoor air quality of your commercial office building will drastically improve.
The indoor air quality in your office is a crucial factor in the health and well-being of your building. Taking steps to improve indoor air quality will not only be better for all building occupants but also increase productivity while lowering costs related to poor indoor air quality. You can take action on improving indoor air quality with 8 easy changes that are described throughout this blog post. If you have questions about how these changes might work or would affect your business operation, let us know! Our team of experts is ready and waiting to partner with you so we can create an effective plan for a healthy building.
Want more tips on improving indoor air quality? Contact us today for a consultation!