Sustainability 101

Five Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Studies show that indoor air is 2 to 5 more polluted than outdoor air, due in part to the carpeting, paint, and other chemicals standard in our modern lives. What can you do in your office to minimize indoor air pollutants? Here are five ideas.

1. Add Plants – Add some greenery to your office environment in the form of healthy plants. Many plants filter out contaminants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are known to be a class of pollutants that may cause irritation to building occupants. Some of the best options: aloe vera, spider plant, or dracaena varieties.

2. Upgrade Ventilation – Stale air that isn’t flowing through your building properly can cause problems for occupants such as nausea and headaches. Ensure that ventilation systems are up to current code and that all bathrooms and showers are ventilated properly. Current ASHRAE standards (Standard 62-89) states that appropriate ventilation guidelines are 20 CFM (9.2 L/s) per person in an office building, and 15 CFM (7.1 L/s) per person for schools.

3. Test Air – Intake air can be tested for contaminants such as mold, bacteria, VOCs, and more. This will help you decide on solutions for your specific air quality issues.

4. Detect Co2/Radon – Carbon dioxide and radon are easily detected with affordable tests. Different states have different rules about radon testing. Find your state’s local radon office at the EPA link below.

5. Survey – Learn what building occupants want through comfort surveys. Ask their opinion on airflow, drafts, temperature, as well as their general sense of well-being when in the office. While it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time, small changes may be able to help people feel more comfortable in the building, and tenants will appreciate being asked their opinion.

Sources: EPA: Find Local Radon OfficesEPA’s Building Air Quality Guide for Building Owners and Facility Managers An Office Building Occupants Guide To Indoor Air Quality

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