Healthy buildings are at the nexus of sustainability and occupant health and comfort goals. However, reducing your carbon footprint and improving the well-being of your occupants requires a comprehensive understanding of your indoor environmental quality.
What is Indoor Environmental Quality?
Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) encompasses all physical characteristics of indoor environments that can affect our health, wellbeing and performance.
Key IEQ Parameters
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is critical to health and wellbeing. Poor IAQ can cause various health problems, such as headaches, dizziness, eye irritation, respiratory issues and disease transmission. Common sources of indoor air pollution include:
- Biological Pollutants
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products
- Lead (Pb)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Radon (Rn)
- Indoor Particulate Matter
- Secondhand Smoke/ Environmental Tobacco Smoke
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Wood Smoke
Thermal comfort is one of the leading factors in occupant satisfaction and productivity within the built environment, making it a vital component of a healthy building strategy. For example, studies show performance increases with temperatures up to 21-22 °C and decrease with temperatures above 23-24 °C.
Moreover, temperature control directly correlates to your carbon footprint and utility bills. Heat is the largest energy end-use and contributes 40% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Humidity is a measure of the amount of water vapor in the air. Maintaining appropriate humidity levels is vital to occupancy health and overall building health. Too much humidity can cause dampness and mold, and too little means the air becomes dry and uncomfortable, which can negatively impact the immune response and irritate respiratory systems.
A World Green Building Council report found that office noise distractions triggered a 66% drop in concentration and performance among those surveyed. In addition, people exposed to excessively loud noise experience hearing damage, increased stress hormone levels, raised blood pressure, and motivational loss.
Poor lighting is often overlooked in the workplace despite its association with various physical and mental health effects, such as eye strain, headaches, fatigue, stress, and anxiety. This makes it a crucial component of occupant health and well-being.
In addition, inefficient use of indoor lighting (i.e. leaving lights on in an empty space) is wasteful and negatively impacts your bottom-line sustainability efforts.
The Benefits of IEQ Monitoring
Indoor environmental quality monitoring leverages IoT sensors to collect real-time data on the conditions of a room or zone. This data can then be integrated with smart building platforms to unveil underlying problems that might not be immediately recognizable by a human, such as the high concentration of particulate matter or carbon dioxide or unhealthily low humidity levels. An IEQ monitoring solution can also alert facility managers when IEQ parameters reach a specified threshold and automate building controls for quick remediation or optimization.
Enhances Health and Comfort
IEQ monitoring enhances occupant health, improves the quality of life, and reduces the risk of stress and potential injuries with a high-quality interior environment that aligns with sustainable design practices, including WELL, Fitwel and LEED.
A high level of IEQ can also lead to increased productivity. Poor indoor air quality, for example, can cause fatigue and reduce cognitive function, making it harder for occupants to perform their duties. By maintaining a high level of IEQ, facility managers can help ensure that occupants are productive and efficient. A study found that companies that adopt more rigorous environmental standards are associated with higher labor productivity, by an average of 16 percent, over non-green firms.
Reduces Carbon Footprint
Buildings are responsible for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet. IEQ monitoring helps improve the energy efficiency of a building by identifying areas of energy waste and testing the effectiveness of a building’s HVAC and control systems.
Improves Building Longevity & Value
IEQ monitoring can also help improve the longevity of a building. By identifying and addressing issues that could negatively impact the building’s structural integrity, facility managers can help ensure that the building remains in good condition for years.
Moreover, a well-maintained facility enables building owners to seek higher rent and resale. For owners and developers, healthy buildings result in 3% higher rent premiums and 7% higher cash flow, as well as higher occupancy rates and transactional prices.
Continous IEQ monitoring provides actionable insights that enable facility managers to identify problems quickly before they become costly utility, maintenance or legal bills.
Leveraging data through IEQ monitoring can lead to energy savings, reductions in service calls, happier tenants, and higher rental rates.
IEQ monitoring solutions like ioAirFlow, powered by Groundfloor, enable you to collect, understand, and share information on your buildings’ indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency and performance and recommend improvements that keep your properties running optimally and your occupants happy.