Achieving Better IAQ
Jamie Cameron, Director of Digital Solutions at Johnson Controls UK & Ireland, comments on recent calls for a post-Covid 'revolution' in building indoor air quality.
Following the publication by leading scientists writing in the journal Science of calls for a post-Covid revolution in building air quality implementing smart technology is the next logical step in the fight against the coronavirus.
To ensure our workplaces, schools, and hospitals are healthy and safe for everyone, clean air needs to be the top priority. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of ventilation and improving indoor air quality, to reduce the chance of virus transmission and help ensure the safe return of employees to workplaces. This is good news – but the focus on clean air comes too late. It should have always been a priority, clean air is not just about reducing the transmission of this virus, but also lowering CO2, Particulate matter, and VOC’s, all of which are proven to impact our health and productivity.
Air quality in the buildings where we live and work has a huge impact on our lives. In workplaces, it often goes unnoticed – but this is a dangerous oversight. Organisations are always looking for ways to increase performance, happiness, and comfort, and lower the number of sick days staff take. Now, they need to mitigate the risk of infections too. This begins with a focus on clean air, improving indoor air quality to make the places we work truly healthy buildings.
The critical first step in making clean air a reality is a focus on building occupancy. Using technology to measure occupancy levels in real-time, via apps or central dashboards, means businesses can adjust air change levels accordingly. Variable air conditioning systems and sensors can also provide flexibility depending on the occupancy of a room – if more people enter, more clean air gets pumped in.
This is an industry-wide issue: developers and building owners need to do better than designing ventilation systems around minimum occupancy levels, and thus minimum air change levels. Research shows that the greater the air change levels, the more productive, happy, and healthy workers and students are. For businesses who want to get the most out of their people, indoor air quality needs to take precedence. Clean air is a cornerstone of healthy buildings, especially now – but we must not leave it by the wayside once the pandemic is over.
The counterintuitive problem with clean air is around sustainability and leading to significant increases in heating and cooling costs. Therefore, analytical platforms are needed to use AI to provide building owners with the data around the real time costs for increasing the flow of fresh air into the spaces.