Why Should Commercial Buildings Test their Indoor Environments?
An interview with Vice President, Sean McCrady, Vice President IEQ, CEICC, CMC, CIEC, LEED AP
The EPA estimates we spend at least 90% of our time indoors, and given this is the air to which we are primarily exposed, along with the endless sources of information available regarding indoor pollutants and environmental hazards, building occupants are becoming more and more aware and concerned about their indoor environment. Commercial building managers are frequently asked about the air quality in the tenant workspaces, a symptom of a workforce who are increasingly placing a premium on health and wellness in their lifestyles in general.
By proactively managing the indoor environment, we are able to take this potential negative and turn it into a positive. In doing this, adopters of a Healthy Building’s proactive indoor air and water quality program are able to gain much needed liability protection. They are also able to greatly enhance or improve the perceptions and morale of the building occupants and ultimately strengthen the relationship between the building management and the building occupants by helping to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.
There is a growing list of sustainability programs used by the commercial real estate industry to score environmental performance, including LEED®, BREEAM, FITWEL, Greenglobes, WELL, BOMA Best and others. They all address indoor air quality to one degree or another. This common theme is evidence of the importance of the issue as a core component of sustainability, health and wellness in the built environment.
How Does Healthy Buildings Test and Monitor the Indoor Environment?
Healthy Buildings has developed a strategic program to monitor the indoor air on a proactive basis. We do this by routinely testing and inspecting representative areas throughout buildings for pollutants known to be endemic to buildings and showing that its safe levels and by proactively inspecting HVAC systems. Things like air handling units, duct systems, cooling towers etc. and documenting the good preventative maintenance being done while providing pragmatic recommendations when appropriate.
The reporting that results from this exercise provides actionable information for the building engineering teams and a valuable communications tool for the building manager when it comes to communicating with the tenants. There is also a valuable risk management component to these programs, showing documentation of due diligence by the building owner. As inexpensive sensor technology has developed, now readily available to the public, this data is no longer in the sole purview of the building owner and their legal teams. Professional data collection by Healthy Buildings helps our clients maintain control of this issue.
What are the Benefits of a Healthy Buildings IEQ Program?
Some of the benefits of the program therefore include valuable liability protection, a much more attractive workplace for attracting and maintaining tenants and employees, and a much more productive workplace with less absenteeism. Moreover, the data flowing from these programs is a key component of the reporting infrastructure required from investors who score their properties environmental performance. This makes the Healthy Buildings Program a great fit for any building owner, property manager or corporation.