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Steps to take to enhance building air quality for any business owner

By Jerry Scanlan – Executive Vice President, Boland Apr 6, 2021

For the majority of Americans, 95% of their time is spent in enclosed spaces [1]. Yet, many don’t know how these conditioned spaces impact their health, productivity, and safety. As a building or business owner, do you know the impact this has on you? Let's take a look at some factors you may not have correlated to your indoor environmental quality (IEQ). The Center for Disease and Control (CDC) reported that an estimated $225.8 billion in the annual cost of productivity loss is due to absenteeism [2]. Studies on human-centric lighting and UV lights to deactivate contaminants in the air are not new areas of research, but are being looked at differently today [3]; would you have considered this as part of indoor environmental quality (IEQ)? Most think of indoor air quality (IAQ) because we are familiar with filters and the CDC and ASHRAE recommendations to increase outside airflow. You may be thinking, ‘what’s the difference?’

What differentiates IEQ from IAQ? IEQ, as defined by Trane, encompasses the quality of conditions inside a building: air quality, lighting, thermal conditions, acoustics, ergonomics/architecture — and their effects on occupants. Therefore, IAQ is a component of IEQ that relates directly to air quality in relation to the health and comfort of occupants. The purpose of IEQ is to improve the quality of life, protect human health, and the comfort of occupants. I recently talked about making the most of your indoor environmental quality in a recent podcast.

Core elements of IEQ There are four main pillars to IEQ: thermal comfort (how cold am I?), lighting (is the lighting right for my task?), acoustics (is noise disrupting my task), and IAQ (what’s in the air I am breathing?). The first three appeal more to personal factors of comfort. Studies have shown that this overall experience can have a profound impact on the health and productivity of the occupant both consciously and subconsciously [4]. The most challenging issue with these elements is that unless the environment is very bad, a lot of the impact goes unnoticed by the occupant, making it difficult to draw a connection between the negative effects of poor indoor environmental quality and root causes — especially since these changes tend to happen gradually over time with little noticeable signs. A smoke-filled room is an obvious sign that the air should not be breathed in. However, a buildup of carbon dioxide or viruses in a room is not. Take a look at this document if you are looking to dive deeper into great detail on each element. Read more here:

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