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How to Improve Air Quality in Your Office With Intelligent Analysis

Image of Jon Schoenfeld
Jon Schoenfeld

Returning to work amid a pandemic isn’t easy, even when there’s hope on the horizon. A recent poll shows that 54% of employees in the U.S. are anxious about the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. And their fears aren’t unfounded; most transmission happens indoors.

While coronavirus can affect virtually everyone, those in densely-populated office work environments may be particularly vulnerable. As a result, it’s more important than ever for building owners and facilities managers to understand how to improve air quality in office environments to reduce risk and reassure occupants. However, COVID-19 isn’t the only concern. Toxic air contaminants like carbon monoxide, hazardous compounds, and other unhealthy particulate matter can have profound environmental and health effects for indoor spaces.

Intelligent analytics expands your ability to monitor and improve air quality in office buildings, creating a more comfortable and healthier environment for occupants.

How to Improve Air Quality in Your Office

Intelligent analytics is a powerful tool for addressing air quality issues and alleviating occupant concerns. Paired with an interconnected network of building equipment and sensors, cutting-edge analytics platforms use an intelligent combination of rules written by building scientists and machine learning algorithms to continuously collect, organize, and analyze air quality-related data. This analysis can then be used to generate meaningful insights, detect and diagnose faults according to tailored rule sets, and facilitate automation. As a result, you gain greater visibility into building conditions and can more easily create effective strategies for improving air quality based on objective criteria.   

Some of the key steps for optimizing the benefits of analytics are:

Work with an intelligent analytics provider for expert guidance. Intelligent analytics from control experts who understand your business allows you to efficiently address air quality, health, energy, and ventilation concerns.

Define your air quality goals, including factors such as:

  • Enhancing occupant comfort
  • Removing pollutants 
  • Reducing energy use and waste
  • Minimizing occupant complaints
  • Providing timely resolution to air quality issues
  • Improving ventilation to address COVID-19 concerns and allow for safer reopening

Understand and adhere to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) guidelines for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and air quality.

When responding to COVID-19, this includes: 

  • Conducting a comprehensive risk assessment covering infectious diseases, harmful pathogens, pollutant disseminations, and other air quality concerns in collaboration with a qualified analytics engineer or provider.
  • Developing a building readiness plan for the building.
  • Evaluating systems and equipment throughout your facilities.
  • Effectively measuring, monitoring, and reporting on building conditions.
  • Improving ventilation and minimizing coronavirus transmission risk by:
    • Conducting a pre-occupancy outdoor air flush to decrease bioburden 
    • Ensuring systems are able to stream an adequate volume of outdoor air for quality ventilation 
    • Installing high-quality filters (MERV 13 or better) for recirculated air

Proper ventilation, air distribution, and filtration can significantly reduce airborne pathogen transmission and are critical for reopening safely.

Deploy appropriate sensors. Air quality can be strategically improved by targeting areas of concern identified through the deployment of network-connected sensors. Sensors gather environmental data that, when combined with precise monitoring and real-time reporting, allow for more efficient diagnosis of fault conditions and better automated response actions. 

The following pollutants typically have the greatest impact on the environment and occupant health in office spaces: 

  • Ozone (O3)
  • Particulate matter (PM)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) 
  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Lead

Using sensors to detect and measure these compounds is critical for providing healthier indoor spaces, reducing air quality-related health risks, and minimizing environmental impact. 

Other valuable sensors include:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) 
  • Temperature 
  • Variable air volume (VAV) box temperature sensor for supply air monitoring
  • Humidity
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) 
  • Ventilation
  • Occupancy

 

As you extract new insights from reported data and identify potential fault areas for targeting equipment configuration changes, you can quickly address high-priority concerns and more easily meet air quality goals. 

Insights Accessible from Anywhere

Intelligent analytics undeniably open up new opportunities for improving air quality in office environments. However, it can also allow you to gain the information you need without being onsite.

With a mobile-friendly analytics platform like onPoint, data-driven insights can be accessed by stakeholders any time from virtually anywhere, minimizing the need to be physically present in the building. This can greatly reduce troubleshooting response time and expedite implementation of corrective action, improving operational efficiency. However, it takes on new importance in the age of coronavirus; stakeholders can stay connected while keeping their own safety in mind and avoiding unnecessary interactions.

The safety of indoor environments is a legitimate concern for many who are considering a return to crowded offices. Knowing how to improve air quality can go a long way in helping tenants and their employees feel better about transitioning back to office work. Preparing office buildings with a centralized dashboard reporting system that provides real-time insights can alleviate some of the most pressing concerns workers have in this time of uncertainty. With the right tools, you can promote a healthy and safe environment—now and in the future. 

To learn more about how onPoint can help improve air quality in office buildings, register for our monthly webinars. Or contact our expert advisors to get more information about onPoint and building analytics. 

 

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