The focus on indoor air quality is a welcome outcome of the pandemic

indoor air quality in officesHow has COVID-19 affected your office management practices? And what adaptations are you expecting to keep, as other parts of the building experience go back to normal? One area of adaptation that is prime to be kept long-term is greater effort spent monitoring property health and wellness metrics. While occupancy and cleaning frequency are both important to keep track of, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is also critical for landlords to keep an eye on.

IAQ has become a discussed topic in facility management circles, with goals typically reflecting both promoting building safety, and giving occupiers a metric they can track for the sake of peace of mind. But while COVID-19 has been the impetus for much of the interest in air quality monitoring, IAQ is an important metric even with the coronavirus completely outside of the picture.

This is because there is a wide range of non-COVID health and wellness risks associated with unclean air. From more standard infectious diseases like colds or the flu to fumes from building materials to radon and even things as omnipresent as pollen, polluted air is responsible for a wide range of negative building health outcomes like headaches, dizziness, and even eventually respiratory disease. Ensuring occupiers do not experience these symptoms must be a high priority for landlords everywhere.

Keeping track of air quality in a building is not hard with the right tools. Systems that monitor air quality tend to fall into the world of HVAC devices, and include several components: sensors and sensor-receiving hubs to collect raw air quality data, filters, and air purifiers are some of the most common elements. These systems can be as passive as simply scrubbing air that circulates through an HVAC system, or as active as reporting data to landlords on an ongoing basis and even automating the inflow of clean air.


Going with the flow

Once equipped with this kind of data, landlords have a variety of options to put this information to use, both internally and with their occupiers. For one thing, they can use it to inform better cleaning and maintenance procedures, like replacing filters more frequently or investing in better mechanical systems. They can also share this information with occupiers as a value-added metric. In turn, tenant reps can share this information with their employees, giving them more confidence in their office space. They can also use the information to inform better practices within their own spaces, like addressing windows that are kept open or closed for too long.

For example, our solution FLOW shows the data to all occupiers. “The community management team then works as a productivity benchmarking squad, making sure to celebrate when occupants are exceeding their sustainability goals by monitoring the data displayed in FLOW,” explained Isabelle Jaconelli, Community Manager UK at Spaceflow.

Landlords can also use this information as a marketing bullet point, helping them showcase the environmental quality and safety of their spaces during the leasing process. Given the choice between two otherwise equal buildings, would you rather lease space in one that can demonstrate its high-quality indoor air, or one that can’t? And finally, landlords can also use this information to apply for certifications, themselves a big marketing plus, like the one offered by UL.

Not every property measures its indoor air quality, but those that do have access to a valuable stream of information can be employed in a variety of ways. In light of COVID-19, more and more occupiers want to know what their buildings are doing to keep them safe, and air quality is a lot less visible than something like frequent cleaning services. The only way to truly demonstrate a commitment to action is through numbers and scores, like the ones that a dedicated IAQ monitoring system can provide.

Image by Michael Gaida