The indoor air quality of buildings is a matter of concern to tenants, managers, employees, and landlords. It can affect the comfort, well-being, productivity, and health of building occupants.
Indoor environments can sometimes have higher levels of pollutants than those found outdoors. Although most buildings don’t have serious indoor air quality issues, it is possible for buildings to experience periods of poor indoor air quality.
Why should you care? Poor indoor air may cost your business millions of dollars each year in lost employee productivity and medical care.
So, what is Ventilation?
Ventilation is defined as the movement or extraction of outside air into or around an indoor space.
Ventilation is made up of three major parts:
- Ventilation rates: the quantity and quality of outdoor air.
- Airflow Direction: The flow and direction of air within buildings, from clean to dirty areas.
- Air distribution: the distribution of outside air as well as the removal of polluting substances.
A building can have its ventilation done in one of three main ways:
- Mechanical ventilation is based on mechanical fans.
- Natural ventilation, relies on natural forces or
- Hybrid/Mixed mode ventilation: This relies on nature, with fans being used when the ventilation rate/s becomes too low.
In humid areas like Perth or Western Australia, humidity needs to be minimised. Positive pressure mechanical ventilation can also be used to control moisture and humidity in your Perth commercial air conditioning buildings.
Two main ways ventilation improves indoor air quality:
- Dilutes polluting substances from the building and,
- Remove polluting substances from your building.
Humidity and Moisture
Controlling humidity and moisture in occupied spaces is crucial. Moulds and other biological contaminants can thrive in areas that are too moist or dirty. Too high relative humidity levels can lead to the growth and spread of unhealthy biological pollutants. It is also possible to fail to dry water-damaged material promptly (usually within 24 hours), or to properly maintain equipment with drain pans or water reservoirs (e.g., humidifiers, refrigerators, and ventilation equipment). However, too low humidity levels can cause irritation of the mucous membranes, dry eyes, and discomfort in the sinuses.
Factors that Contribute to Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality does not have a single, easy-to-define concept such as a desk or a leaky tap. The indoor environment is affected by a complex mix of factors. These factors include sources of pollutants and odours, design, maintenance, and operation of building ventilating systems, moisture and humidity, and occupant perceptions.
Although all pollutants are important to be aware of, there are specific issues for each workplace. For example, in a commercial kitchen, grease and smoke may be a major pollutant, so you will need to factor smoke exhaust into your design. Meanwhile, in an office environment, mould, dust, and cleaning chemicals could be causing some issues.
Design, Maintenance and Operation of Building Ventilation Systems
When designing your indoor ventilation system, some good factors to consider include:
- air supply from the outside
- outside, air quality
- space planning
- equipment maintenance
- regulating other pollutant pathways
- surface area
- usage of space
- budget availability
You should consult an expert commercial Perth HVAC services contractor to ensure the right ventilation system and technical design is considered.
Air Quality is a Shared Responsibility
Inadequate HVAC design could be one reason for poor indoor air quality. Some factors may only be within the control of building management, such as Perth HVAC service maintenance and outside air flow. Others are more directly controlled by building tenants and their occupants. For example, materials used in renovations or products and furniture brought into the building. Some, such as cleaning and maintaining the building’s cleanliness, require cooperation from both the building management and the employees who work there. Indoor air quality is a shared responsibility.
Things Everyone Can Do:
Comply with Office and Building Smoke Policy
You should only smoke in designated areas.
Don’t Block Air Vents or Grills
So that you don’t upset your Perth HVAC system or interfere with the ventilation in a neighbouring building, air flow can also be affected by furniture, boxes, and other items located near return air grilles or supply vents. If your space becomes too hot, too cold, or stuffy, follow the procedures in your office to notify building management.
Clean Up All Water Spills and Report Water Leaks Promptly
Water is a perfect environment for microorganisms, such as moulds and fungi. If they are airborne, some of these microbes can cause health issues.
Store Food Properly
Pests love food. Unrefrigerated foods can cause food to spoil or produce unpleasant odours. Perishable foods should never be stored on your desk or on shelves. To prevent odours, refrigerators should be cleaned regularly. Make sure to keep your kitchen and dining areas clean.
Promptly and Properly Dispose of Garbage
To prevent odours or biological contamination, dispose of garbage in the appropriate containers.
If you think your building has a problem with indoor air quality
Indoor pollution can cause discomfort or health problems in your office, so you should:
- Let the building management know your concerns using your normal and appropriate channels.
- Discuss your concerns with your doctor, nurse, or other health care provider. Let them know if you need to call the state or local health department.
- To aid in the often-difficult task of identifying and solving problems, cooperate with management during indoor air quality investigations
It is important to have ventilation in your Perth commercial air conditioning building. An HVAC professional, such as Allfield can offer a complete solution and ongoing support.
Contact us if you need any assistance with the design, installation, maintenance, calibration, or repair of a ventilation system.