Air quality, which basically specifies the cleanliness of air, has long been a critical issue among building owners and occupiers – but it has only been now that the world’s attention has focused on indoor air because of the ways COVID-19 is spread. Organizations such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Center for Disease Control have long been educating the world about the importance of good air quality, especially in closed areas such as buildings and transportation. Research have given birth for applications and standards for indoor air quality (IAQ).
IAQ refers to the types of concentrations of contaminants in indoor air that are known or suspected to affect people’s comfort, wellbeing, health, learning outcomes, and work performance. In short, it refers to the fresh air amount in a closed area. Think about it: Every day we use our heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems or air conditioning systems, which get fresh air from the outside, filters, cools it and supplies into our zone. Outside air potentially contains biological and non-biological particles, pathogens, and organic and inorganic gasses. Many reports and studies indicate that children, elderly, low-income, minority, and indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by indoor air. Indoor air may also trigger asthma attacks, cause short breathing, and other sicknesses.
Beyond wellbeing of occupants, there are more reasons why greater attention should be devoted on IAQ. Looking at IAQ also means examining the facility’s or building’s energy efficiency – a major cost in operations. IAQ processes are related with a facility’s HVAC or HVAC-refrigeration and filtration systems, maintenance frequencies and methodologies, and monitoring systems.
Lastly, IAQ ensures fresh air inside one’s life zone through proper ventilation and the removal of dirty and exhaust air. The importance of IAQ has been pointed out by many HVAC experts and standard organizations such as WHO, ASHREA, LEED, and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.
How do we improve IAQ in properties this 2021 and beyond? Here are four ways.
1. Increase air circulation and outdoor air. Technicians can measure and possibly even adjust the amount of outdoor air coming into the building and increase ventilation. bring fresher air flow, increase the ventilation air and air circulation. For better filtration, consider redesigning your HVAC or HVAC\R systems. Circulate more fresh air in non-medical buildings and increase the filtration. For medical buildings, improve ventilation and filtration systems.
2. Think green. We need to acknowledge the negative impact to respiratory health that so many materials and products. Reduce toxic indoor contaminants. Consider implementing policies for the use of greener cleaning products, integrated pest management systems that use fewer toxic chemicals, and low- emitting paints and sealants. In addition, choose naturally-breathing, low-carbon construction materials for an organic temperature in an indoor environment. Plant trees as much as possible to reduce the need for air-conditioning in the building.
3. Good maintenance. Increase your maintenance activities and due diligence by making sure building maintenance personnel practice IAQ and testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) to help make the building environment healthier, safer, and more comfortable to work and live in. Give your building ventilation system a regular tune up that increases fresh air and air flow. Change the filters, especially outdoor filters. Outdoor air includes many particles and pathogens.
4. Invest in better technology. Replace old units. Many older buildings were not designed with ventilation systems that meet even today’s minimum standards. A new retrofit for older buildings can achieve a new ventilation system that is up to current standards for modern buildings. If your building is unoccupied at the moment, it is a great time to be changing out equipment without disrupting work flow.
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