Air quality is a topic which Facilities Managers (FMs) are increasingly focusing on. This is due to growing awareness surrounding the impact of exposure to poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).
Last year The Building Engineering Association (BESA) commissioned a survey. It revealed that almost 70% of office workers believed poor IAQ in their workplace negatively impacted their productivity and well-being. Furthermore, a third were also concerned that it was damaging their health.
As employees become more aware of the impacts of poor IAQ, they are demanding for employers to make improvements. Facilities managers are likely to receive regular complaints and concerns regarding the workplace environment including air quality and temperature.
Employers have an obligation under The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, 1992, to maintain a safe and comfortable working environment. Any complaints relating to IAQ and thermal comfort therefore need to be investigated and action taken.
Facilities Net advises that improving the indoor environment involves “planning, designing, building, operating, maintaining and renovating buildings in ways that reduce pollution sources and remove indoor pollutants while, at the same time, ensuring that fresh air is continually supplied” (Ref 1).
When handling IAQ complaints it is important to investigate the source of the complaint. The top complaint received by FMs relates to the thermal environment, which includes temperature, relative humidity and airflow. Some of these complaints can simply be resolved by adjusting the temperature in the workspace. However in a lot of workplace environments there can be disagreements over temperature.
Traditional air conditioning usually blows cold air outwards from a centralised wall unit or grille – sometimes directly onto occupants. This can create hot and cold spots, uneven temperatures and uncomfortable draughts. The result is some occupants feel too hot whilst others are too cold.
When installing HVAC equipment in new or existing premises it is important to ensure that the system:
- Maintains even temperatures throughout with no hot or cold spots.
- Does not create an uncomfortable draught.
When investigating IAQ it is also important to look at indoor-pollutant levels. Indoor air pollution can impact employee health and as a result work productivity.
The most effective way of removing indoor pollutants is to incorporate air purification in the building heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
Facilities Net recommends an air purification system which combines high-efficiency filters and UV lights.
The Ingenious Air System
The award winning Ingenious Air® System can create the perfect indoor climate. It is a modular induction air distribution system that can incorporate heat recovery ventilation, outside air ventilation and high specification air purification.
The system uses the unique induction method or air delivery; air is gently and continuously distributed via a series of discreet air outlets. This helps to create a comfortable and productive working environment. Temperatures are even and consistent … and there are no draughts!
The air purification module combines three powerful technologies including high specification filters and UV lamps.
It neutralises all three types of serious indoor air pollutant, which can lead to short and long-term ill-health.
- Airborne bacteria and viruses (0.001 microns) that cause infectious illnesses. These include influenza, colds, tuberculosis, chickenpox and c.difficile.
- Airborne particulates that cause allergies. These include pollen, fungal spores, dust mites, pet dander and tobacco smoke.
- Airborne toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause short and long-term ill-health. These include nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, fumes and unpleasant odours from paint solvents, car exhausts, pesticides, cleaning fluids and alcohol.
Ref 1: Campling, J. C. (2006) Handling Indoor Air Quality Complaints, Facilities Net [Accessed on: 26/07/2017]