Common-Sense Tips for Better IAQ in Your Office Building
On any given work day, employees in the average office setting spend almost as much time in their employer’s building as they do in their own homes. Unlike their more mobile counterparts, office employees may have little opportunity to leave the building for fresh air. Since individuals in an office building spend so much time in that environment, it’s important to maintain indoor air quality (IAQ) at its highest possible level. The following information can help you recognize the importance of IAQ and give you some practical suggestions for improving the air quality in your office spaces.
Problems Associated with Low IAQ
Reduced indoor air quality can result from factors such as large amounts of particulates in the air, unpleasant odors that building occupants must endure, or irritating or harmful fumes and gases that can affect health and comfort. Low IAQ can cause problems such as:
- Aggravation or initiation of respiratory conditions such as asthma.
- Harm to health and safety due to exposure to dangerous substances such as carbon monoxide.
- Triggering of allergies or other reactions to substances in the air.
In an office environment, these problems can be even more severe because of the closeness of the space and the generally sedentary nature of the activities performed there. For this reason, measures should be taken to keep office indoor air quality at the highest level possible.
How to Improve IAQ in an Office Building
- Change HVAC filters frequently: The filters in your heating and cooling system serve the important function of cleaning your indoor air. They trap and hold particulates such as dust, pollen, mold and fibers as air flows through the HVAC system. When filters get clogged and dirty, they are less effective at this vital function. In addition, dirty filters can reduce required airflow and cause damage to your HVAC equipment. Check filters at least once a month and change them when they get dirty. If your indoor air tends to have more contaminants than usual, it may be necessary to check filters every two weeks.
- Have preventive maintenance performed on your HVAC equipment: Preventive maintenance keeps your furnace, heat pump or air conditioner working at their best and most efficient level. Regular maintenance is also important for keeping coils (the components where heat transfer takes place) clean and ensuring that drain pans and drainage systems are clear and functioning properly. Excess moisture in the HVAC system can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can affect IAQ.
- Use better filters or specialized air cleaning equipment: Consult with your HVAC professional to see if your heating and cooling system can accommodate a filter with a higher MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) level. Higher MERV ratings mean a more effective and efficient filter that removes more contaminants. Installing an air filtration system, germicidal ultraviolet lights or other specialized equipment can improve IAQ even further.
- Ensure ductwork, air intakes and exhaust systems are properly designed and installed to provide the best level of airflow possible: Fresh air intakes bring in clean air from outside, while exhaust systems ensure contaminants and harmful gases are removed from your indoor spaces. If your office building is relatively new or recently remodeled, consider increasing airflow even further to improve ventilation and remove fumes and particulates from recently installed carpeting, paint and other construction materials.
- Make sure economizers are operating properly: Poorly functioning or nonfunctional economizers can limit air conditioner cooling functions and lead to complaints of moist and bad-smelling indoor air. Have these components checked and serviced by a qualified HVAC professional.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information on improving indoor air quality and why IAQ is so important to the health and comfort of building occupants, or to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!