As the weather outside gets frightful, it may not hold a candle to the fright fest of unwanted toxins raging directly inside your building. Indoor air can be rather undelightful to employee health unless businesses take action to ensure proper IAQ.
Poor IAQ can be costly to companies in terms of sick time, medical care, and presenteeism. Lost productivity affects all commercial building constituents. Regardless of the type of industry, poor IAQ is one trade-off that most building occupants won’t stand for. Therefore, more and more often buildings and companies are creating cross-functional teams, or “task forces,” to establish systems that help prevent indoor air quality problems and resolve problems cooperatively if they do arise.
In addition to mechanical systems professionals, an IAQ task force may include building owners, facility managers, maintenance engineers, health and safety officers, sustainability professionals, purchasing departments, HVAC contractors, filter distributors, and the building occupants themselves. Being mindful of the following objectives can help to ensure the success if your IAQ task force:
Establishing a System for IAQ Communications and Complaints
First and foremost, an IAQ task force should be sure to let employees and/or building occupants know that a group has been formed to ensure high IAQ. Let people know who is on the task force, and how members of the group can be reached. Next, let people know how to effectively share complaints and concerns related to IAQ, as well as how quickly they can expect to receive a response. Creating a standardized form to receive complaints, questions, or concerns about IAQ is also helpful. This information can be shared via email, posted on bulletin boards, circulated in newsletters, or publicized by some other means.
Sharing Relevant Information
The IAQ task force and its officers should provide building occupants with accurate, up to date information on how they are maintaining or improving IAQ, as well as information on what tenants can do themselves. In particular, accurately communicating maximum occupancy limits and the permitted uses of various spaces in their building is very important as both can heavily impact IAQ. When a problem arises, the IAQ task force should maintain ongoing communication with those impacted until an acceptable resolution is reached.
The IAQ task force should share information on the type of air filters being used in the building, and any plans to upgrade them. Often the most immediate thing that can be done to improve IAQ is improving the quality of the building’s air filters. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is a measurement scale from 1-16, designed to rate the effectiveness of air filters.Higher MERV ratings correspond to a greater percentage of particles captured on each pass. Though MERV 8 filters are commonly used in commercial settings, they pale in efficiency when compared to MERV 11 air filters. What best practices does your facility management team do to provide and high IAQ?