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Why indoor air quality is important to minimise the spread of COVID-19

Published: 14 September 2020 - Victoria White

Tenants of serviced offices are starting to ask questions about environmental monitoring in their office spaces. Temperature, humidity, CO2 and ventilation levels are known to have an impact on comfort and even productivity of occupants of an office building. Add in safety concerns about COVID19 transmission in the workplace and this becomes a trend that Facilities Managers need to be paying attention to now. 

Yodit Stanton, CEO of Opensensors.com, has long been championing the use of data to optimise facilities management. She says “Leveraging office utilisation and environmental data is a way to efficiently aid office reopening and manage employees returning to work following COVID-19 lockdown.”

There are many other use cases for monitoring internal air quality: efficient management of reopening offices and reducing the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission is a high priority for the short to medium term. Over the longer term, efficiency is a key consideration for both Facilities Managers and workspace tenants and it’s an area where data monitoring and reporting will continue to grow in relevancy.

Internal Air Quality, or IAQ, depends on what’s going on outside the building as much as what’s going on inside. To optimise ventilation and filtration, you need to know what’s coming in from outside. For example, it’s a waste of energy to increase ventilation by circulating air from outside the building if that results in an overall increase in the polluted air inside. Equally, if you aren’t accurately monitoring air quality within the building (particulates, NO2, VOC’s temperature, humidity and CO2 are most relevant for office spaces) you run the risk of running HVAC systems when they’re not needed.

Optimising usage of the HVAC system pays dividends in many ways. Running the ventilation system when it’s not needed uses more energy. Understanding where in a building the problem areas are, means corrective measures can be applied in those areas only, rather than across the entire building and potentially wasting energy. A low carbon approach is increasingly important for businesses and individuals in our efforts to be conscious energy consumers. Wasted energy also means a direct increase in energy costs. There are also the less obvious costs that build up over time for HVAC maintenance. Greater usage leads to more frequent replacement of filtration equipment, for example, if wear on the air handling units can be reduced by increasing efficiency, this will lead to lower maintenance costs.

David Johnson, Sales Director at South Coast Science believes that with the increased availability of low-cost environmental sensors, the demand for real-time internal air quality monitoring will increase. He says “Because air is pervasive and always moving into and out of the building, to operate HVAC efficiently you need to monitor indoor air quality in real-time and with a high degree of accuracy. To do this, you must also understand the impact of what is coming in from outside. The two are very much linked and this is why we are developing both solutions for building managers and landlords to understand the effect this has on indoor air quality”.

Low cost sensors for environmental monitoring provide a solution for gathering the data needed to optimise systems, realise cost benefits and support energy efficiency in the workplace. South Coast Science is continuing to develop air quality monitoring systems that provide accurate and real-time data both inside and outside the building. When used in combination with occupancy sensors and a visual reporting dashboard, as offered by OpenSensors, a Facilities Manager can easily take action on the data, meet internal air quality targets and provide the evidence to their tenants.

For more information on why indoor air quality should be monitored, especially as employees return to the office, join Yodit Stanton, OpenSensors and Bruno Beloff, South Coast Science in their webinar on how to leverage air quality data to minimise the spread of COVID19. Sign up to save your place here.

Source: Industrial Compliance


 
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