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The unseen value of indoor air quality

 

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is an often-overlooked aspect of our daily lives, yet it plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being. The quality of the air we breathe indoors can significantly impact our comfort, productivity, and even our long-term health.

 

March 14, 2024
 
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The unseen value of indoor air quality
 

A total of 94% of UK respondents to a survey agreed with the issue as the importance of indoor air quality has come to the fore due to the connections made during the COVID pandemic when building owners were warned viruses are more readily transmitted in stale air conditions.

A report by Honeywell featured 500 workers in buildings of 500-plus workers in Germany, India, the Middle East, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of surveyed UK office workers are extremely or very worried about their office’s indoor air quality (IAQ), up from 21% on last year’s survey.

Additionally, eight in 10 respondents (82%) say their expectations for improved IAQ have increased in the past three years.

The report also revealed that 16% of respondents don’t know how often, if at all, their employer or office building manager monitors their office building’s current IAQ, compared with 7% of global respondents. ‘This leaves room for employers to improve both workplace IAQ and communication of IAQ metrics to their employees’.

Nearly half (49%) of respondents want their employer to prioritise both better indoor air quality (IAQ) in their building alongside reducing their building’s carbon footprint.

The UK workforce is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of indoor air quality alongside other environmental concerns. Business owners need to prioritise the provision of a clean, well-ventilated workplace to prevent the spread of viruses and promote employee health and wellbeing.

Staff were asked what they would be willing to give up if it meant reinvesting savings to help reduce the environmental impact of their building and 80% of the UK respondents said they were willing to give up at least one job perk.

Their responses included:

  • Building amenities, like lounges or fitness centre (36%)
  • Food perks for employees, like coffee, tea, or snacks (33%)
  • Less temperature control like running the heat or using AC less (30%)
  • State-of-the-art technology for my day-to-day job (21%)
  • Part of my salary or bonus (14%)

The unseen value of indoor air quality

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is an often-overlooked aspect of our daily lives, yet it plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being. The quality of the air we breathe indoors can significantly impact our comfort, productivity, and even our long-term health.

Monitoring indoor air quality goes beyond simply measuring levels; it’s the start of creating healthier living and working environments. It’s about reducing the risk of respiratory diseases, allergies, and other health issues linked to poor indoor air quality. And it’s about enhancing productivity by creating an environment where people can perform at their best. Ultimately, it’s about peace of mind – knowing that you’re doing everything you can to protect the health and well-being of those within your space.

One of the key benefits of indoor air quality monitoring is its ability to detect potential problems before they become serious health risks. High levels of pollutants such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and particulate matter can easily go unnoticed without proper monitoring. By finding these issues early on, appropriate measures can be taken to improve air quality and prevent potential health problems.

Moreover, indoor air quality monitoring can also contribute to energy efficiency. By optimising ventilation rates based on real-time IAQ data, energy consumption can be reduced without compromising indoor air quality. This not only leads to cost savings but also contributes to sustainability efforts.

A comprehensive indoor air quality plan is essential to fully reap these benefits. Such a plan should include regular monitoring of critical pollutants using reliable sensors and devices. It should also involve a proactive approach to maintaining good indoor air quality – including regular maintenance of MVHR systems, use of low-VOC materials in building interiors, and implementation of effective ventilation strategies.

A plan should also include education and awareness initiatives. Building occupants should be aware of the importance of good indoor air quality and their role in keeping it. This could involve simple actions like avoiding harsh chemical cleaners, ensuring proper ventilation when cooking or using appliances, and reporting any unusual odours or symptoms that could indicate a problem with the indoor air quality or the ventilation system.

Indoor air quality monitoring and indoor air quality plans provide a means to create healthier, more comfortable, and more productive indoor environments. They offer a proactive approach to preventing health issues related to poor indoor air quality. And they contribute to energy efficiency and sustainability efforts. As we increasingly spend more of our time indoors, there’s no denying the importance and value of good indoor air quality.

About the author:
Mark Chapman is the Director of Environmental Services at Syntegra Group