Stefano D’Agostino, vice president and general manager, Sustainable Buildings, Honeywell Building Technologies looks at ways to maintain good indoor air quality amid declining outdoor air levels.
As outdoor air quality continues to deteriorate due to various factors, such as wildfires or increased air pollution, it is important to maintain optimal indoor air quality (IAQ). IAQ can directly affect the wellbeing and comfort of building occupants, especially traditional commercial office workers given the large amounts of time spent indoors[i].
In fact, considering indoor air pollutants can be two to five times worse than outdoor air[ii], which is offset by bringing in outdoor air, it is important for facilities managers to adopt strategies which prioritise IAQ.
By implementing a strategy which forefronts proper ventilation, air filtration and purification, facilities managers will be able to help mitigate the impacts of outdoor pollutants on indoor spaces, helping to provide a better experience for building occupants.
Rethinking ventilation and improving filtration
When it comes to maintaining healthy IAQ levels, ventilation is an important factor to consider as it purifies the air inside buildings. Of course, opening a window is the easiest action to undertake, but in tall commercial offices or environments where the air outside is more polluted, this might not be a viable option.
With this in mind, building owners and facilities managers can use ventilation devices without compromising the wellbeing and comfort of the building’s occupants. Furthermore, facility managers could utilize the building’s heating ventilation and air conditioning unit to help improve IAQ.
Another effective way to help improve IAQ is to clean the existing air within the building, especially in circumstances when the air outside is particularly polluted. By implementing filtration and purification technologies to mitigate the contaminants from a building’s air supply, filters can capture particulates of 0.01 micron and greater[iii] with an extraordinary efficiency by diffusion and interception mechanisms. Furthermore, pressurisation technologies which control the movement of air contaminants, can lead to improved IAQ. Inside a building, controlling air pressure, both positive and negative, is vital to provide comfort and prevent outdoor contaminants from entering a space.
Continuously monitoring IAQ
Ventilation and filtration strategies are essential first steps in helping a building provide improved air quality, but monitoring IAQ with sensors is a highly efficient way to maintain optimal IAQ.
IAQ sensors provide near real-time data on specific pollutants and IAQ parameters. Their monitoring capabilities can continuously assess factors such as temperature, and other particulate matter and then provide feedback which enables facilities managers to make more informed decisions. Implementing IAQ sensors is a step in the right direction for facilities managers, as their ability to more accurately measure their building’s IAQ enables targeted interventions, which in turn allows for more optimised ventilation and filtration systems.
Additionally, modern IAQ sensors can seamlessly integrate with building management systems, automating adjustments in ventilation rates and air circulation, amongst other factors based on the data they provide. This automation not only helps improve occupant comfort, but it also reduces the need for manual intervention.
When addressing a building’s IAQ levels, facilities managers and building owners should implement a strategy which effectively measures IAQ levels and optimises conditions for occupant wellbeing and building efficiency, regardless of what’s happening outside.
Utilizing proper ventilation and filtration devices is a great first step, but it is just as important to integrate IAQ sensors. Overall, the near real-time monitoring, precision, automation, data-driven insights and early detection capabilities of IAQ sensors make them a superior choice for efficiently maintaining and improving IAQ.
[i] EPA, ‘An office building occupants guide to Indoor Air Quality’ [Accessed: 20th September 2023]
[ii] EPA, Indoor Air Quality in Schools, ‘Why indoor air quality is important in schools’ [Accessed: 25th August 2023]
[iii] EPA, Indoor Air Quality, ‘What is a HEPA filter?’ [Accessed: 25th August 2023]