“Are Your Buildings’ Indoor Air Quality Impacting Workforce Productivity?”

They just might be…

Various factors over the past decade have led to greater adoption of strategies to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in office buildings as part of an overall sustainability portfolio program.

A growing body of scientific knowledge has raised awareness about the increased health risks for employees which lead to potentially significant liabilities, increased absenteeism, and reduced productivity.

New regulations and standards to improve IAQ have prompted greater adoption of IAQ strategies by leading companies, as have green building certification criteria that require addressing IEQ in order to obtain certification. The emergence of advanced green technologies, no- and low-emission green cleaning products, PVC-free carpet and water-based paints, have enabled leading companies to implement IAQ source-control strategies at a reduced cost with significant returns on investment.

At a recent client-meeting of the Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. (SR Inc.), Georgia Tech’s Dr. Charlene Bayer, who leads the ‘Health in Buildings Roundtable’, and SR Inc.’s Michael Gresty presented findings of their latest research on, “Managing Indoor Quality” which identified the link between IAQ and worker productivity. The highlights of the published research found:

•       Leading corporate users pursue IAQ management as part of their portfolio-wide sustainability strategy to reduce employee absenteeism and health care costs, improve productivity, reduce liability and regulatory risk, and improve brand and reputation.

•       Commercial real estate owners address IAQ management to improve competitiveness and ability to attract and retain tenants, increase property values, and reduce liability and regulatory risk.

•       Cost-benefit analysis has demonstrated the significant paybacks from improvements in building design, operation, and maintenance that address IAQ. Such improvements “may often exceed the costs by a factor of ten or more because worker salaries and benefits greatly exceed the costs to provide and operate buildings.”

•       Leading executives implement source reduction as the primary strategy for improved IAQ, establish policies for the use of ‘green’ construction materials in renovations and upgrades (e.g., carpets, paints, and furniture), utilize green cleaning chemicals and ban smoking inside and near buildings.

•       Leaders recognize the benefits of increased ventilation to dilute indoor contaminants and implement ventilation rates above the code requirements. Demand controlled ventilation, natural ventilation, mixed-mode ventilation, inclusion of enhanced filtration (both particulate and gas-phase), operational improvements and preventive maintenance are all proven approaches to reduce both energy costs and health complaints.

•       Leading companies monitor key indoor air contaminants like CO, CO2, ozone, particulate matter, and VOCs, and go beyond the mandatory and guideline limits to improve IAQ.

The research features case studies from Steelcase’s Corporate Development Center in Michigan; the Ridgehaven Office Building in San Diego, CA; the Philip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis MD; Royal Bank Building in Winnipeg, Canada; and, Georgia Tech’s campus buildings in Atlanta GA.

The research also provided recommended approaches to manage IAQ and improve indoor air quality in new or existing buildings that included:

  1. Source reduction
  2. Implement humidity control
  3. Increase fresh air ventilation rate and overall air distribution in the space
  4. Use enhanced filtration systems
  5. Improved building maintenance
  6. Behavior modification, occupant education

SR Inc.’s research demonstrates the importance to address indoor air quality as part of an overall sustainability strategy that is designed to create a healthier workplace for your company’s most valuable resource, your workforce.

If you would like to receive an Executive Summary of the research, “Managing Indoor Air Quality” please contact SR Inc.’s Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President, Advisory Services at larrysimpson@sustainround.com or call 508-946-4750.

(The author is Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. Additional posts can be found in SR Inc.’s Forum found at http://www.sustainround.com/aboutst/blog/)

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One Response to “Are Your Buildings’ Indoor Air Quality Impacting Workforce Productivity?”

  1. […] Are Your Buildings’ Indoor Air Quality Impacting Workforce Productivity? Various factors over the past decade have led to greater adoption of strategies to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in office buildings as part of an overall sustainability portfolio program … read more at CRE3 Forum […]

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