By Nicole Attias
To successfully achieve and maintain healthy buildings, facility managers and building owners need to monitor the elements that impact occupant health. Air quality is an important part of this. Why do buildings have poor air quality to begin with? The three main reasons for poor air quality in office towers are the presence of indoor air pollution sources; poorly designed, poorly maintained or operated ventilation systems; and uses not foreseen when the building was designed.
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease and employees gradually return to the workplace, people are worried about their general well-being. Therefore, facility managers and landlords should strive to ensure that their tenants feel protected, manage space effectively, clean and disinfect their premises regularly, and maintain good air quality.
According to David Butt, Regional Services Manager at Automated Logic Corporation, “Most building owners are taking the initiative and preparing their facilities for a return to work and as such are following the advice of their HVAC partners. and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Building Automation Systems (BAS) and Engineering The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has published fundamental recommendations specifically and can help guide homeowners in the right direction based on the operating conditions of their facilities.In addition, the COGFX (Green Buildings on Cognitive Function studies) study provides excellent insight into indoor air quality and environmental impact buildings on employees.
The question of whether workers will be safe continues. David Cooper, mechanical engineer and president of global real estate and buildings at WSP, said: “Instead of the virus falling from the air within the social distancing guideline of 1.8m (6 ft), it may well travel 3 m (10 ft) or even 6 m (20 ft) or more before coming to rest on a surface. Thus, sitting the recommended distance from someone else may not provide the expected level of protection, even if buildings have improved filtration.
So how do you clean viruses from the air? Fan coil units contain filters to capture dust and particles, but these must be maintained. “Over time, the filters get clogged and need to be cleaned or replaced. Often this is not done properly,” said Justin Turnpenny, who leads WSP’s fit-out team in London, Ontario. “Good maintenance is a key element that we must manage in the future. Improved filtration can improve overall air quality, but higher degrees of filtration add resistance to the system – the finer the mesh, the more energy it takes to push the air through – this which increases the energy consumption of the building.
What can you do to improve the indoor air in your office?
Water office plants properly, do not block vents, dispose of garbage in a timely manner,
store food properly, avoid bringing products into the building that may give off unpleasant or harmful odors, and follow the office building’s smoke-free policy.
In summary, if you are managing an office, consider the air circulation, temperature control and pollutant removal functions of the HVAC system when placing office furniture and equipment. It would also be a good idea to coordinate with building management in cases where the responsibility for the design, operation and maintenance of the ventilation system is shared. Finally, maintain an excellent relationship with building management on interior environmental issues.
“One of the key factors over the next few months is to remain vigilant. We are almost through this crisis,” Butt added.
Follow Nicole Attias, Prospect2Win, on YouTube for regular sales and presentation tips. David Butt can be contacted at: [email protected]