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There are some serious mis-perceptions about how much it  would cost to improve indoor air and how much it actually helps with productivity or our health.

Misconceptions about Indoor Air Quality, article photo

We spend 90 percent of the day inside buildings, but we may think of indoor air quality as a matter of comfort or aesthetics, rather than something that has demonstrated impacts on our health and productivity.

A survey was undertaken amongst a number of building stakeholders, including designers, consultants, building owners, building managers, and tenants. The survey presented two basic ideas for improving Indoor Air Quality; increasing ventilation and installing better quality air filters at the same time. Both involve minimal changes, and can usually be done without any changes to existing building mechanical systems.

The survey suggested that most were unsure whether the suggested changes would have much of an effect on productivity, absenteeism, and health. And the majority of the building tenants surveyed thought it was unlikely that the owner of their building would ever install such upgrades.

The survey also revealed an eye-opening misperception regarding the overall cost of making these improvements, with many estimating incorrectly that it would cost 10 times more than actual costs.

There is strong evidence for a link between ventilation rate and occupant welfare and productivity. It is well-known that higher instances of airborne disease infection in commercial buildings are associated directly with low ventilation rates. Increasing the ventilation rates has been proven to reduce absenteeism in offices.

Coupled with the increase in ventilation rate, the survey asked participants to also consider the benefits and costs of upgrading a building’s air filters.

Furthermore increased exposure to low quality outdoor air is tied in with increased cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. If you increase the ventilation rate and therefore bring more particles of low quality outdoor air inside, then it makes sense to improve the air filters too.

Building managers regularly state that keeping their heating and cooling systems operational often consumes much of their time and considering how to improve air quality is rarely thought about.

For many, indoor air quality is a real concern, especially for people with allergies, asthma, or other lung sensitivities, More people will start thinking about the quality of air in their workplace — as much as they think about the temperature and access to natural light.