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IAQ in Commercial Buildings: Progress and Setbacks

As people and businesses return to the office and shared indoor spaces, it’s important to monitor IAQ in commercial buildings. How IAQ has progressed in commercial spaces.

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iaq in commercial spaces

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If you work in a commercial building, knowledge of the building’s indoor air quality is important. Is it good, is it bad? What IAQ solutions are available to improve air quality? These are important questions. You’ll be glad to know that IAQ in commercial buildings has improved over the years. However, there are still setbacks to be solved.

Clean Air in Buildings: In March 2022, the Biden Administration alongside the EPA and other federal agencies launched the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge. With federal funding and IAQ resources, it’s goal is to help facility managers improve building air quality →

Steps Toward Progress 

Building Maintenance

First and foremost, building essentials and maintenance have increased. For example, filters with high MERV ratings are replacing filters with low MERV ratings. This is crucial as air filters are responsible for capturing airborne particles that cause and exacerbate illness and disease. Air filters with a MERV 13 rating or higher are more likely to capture even the smallest air pollutants that may escape less efficient air filters. 

Updated Technology 

In the past years, the use of technology to collect indoor air quality data has increased. In turn, the cost of collecting this data has decreased. As more individuals and groups decided to monitor indoor air quality, the cost of doing so lessened. Additionally, the technology used to collect indoor air quality data has improved. Taking a sample to a lab is no longer the only way to determine the quality of indoor air. Updated technology makes it easier to collect the necessary data.

Let’s look at indoor air quality monitors. These devices are now readily available and affordable for commercial building owners. They’re easy to use and provide valuable information such as temperature, humidity, air pressure and even alert when there is an increase in airborne particles. 

Improved Ventilation

Ventilation rates have increased. Over the past 30 years, buildings were chronically under-ventilated in order to save energy. While this attempt was positively intentioned, it reduced indoor air quality and thus affected the health of occupants.

Whole-Building Mechanical Ventilation: Discover the many benefits of mechanical ventilation, such as heat recovery and energy recovery →

There are several types of ventilation methods (e.g., natural, spot and mechanical), and each brings a different component to the table. However, they all share one thing in common: they bring fresh air into a space and remove stale air. This exchange of air dilutes air pollutants, increasing indoor air quality and protecting the health of occupants. 

Healthy Building Setbacks Are Still Occurring 

A Lack of Assessments 

Given the fact that seasonal variations affect energy use and indoor air quality, an annual assessment is unhelpful. There are four seasons in a year. Therefore, it’s helpful to assess buildings at least four times per year. It is impossible to make accurate predictions and find the best solutions based on one assessment conducted during one particular season. The results of a summer assessment will not be the same as the results of a winter assessment. 

Connectivity Concerns

Connectivity or keeping indoor air quality devices online is challenging in some spaces. Spacious buildings and concrete buildings often have issues with connectivity. If you’ve ever had difficulty connecting to Wi-Fi in your office, then you know what we’re talking about. Devices that are unable to stay online may have trouble providing necessary data. 

IAQ Evolution

The world of indoor air quality is constantly evolving. Even when setbacks occur, progress is still present. In order to further improve IAQ in commercial buildings, it’s important to take note of these setbacks and find solutions. As we move toward a post-pandemic world, employees should return to an atmosphere with excellent indoor air quality.

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