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How to Improve Thermal Comfort and Indoor Air Quality in Any Building

Image of Jon Schoenfeld
Jon Schoenfeld

Health, thermal comfort, and indoor air quality are topics of concern for facilities managers—especially amid extreme weather conditions, pandemics, and emergency situations. Indoor air pollution (IAP), air particulate matter, and extreme hot and cold temperatures can affect the quality of our time spent indoors and even be harmful to our health. As facilities managers, you need to provide solutions for building owners, occupants, and tenants so that the health and comfort of their indoor spaces isn’t one more thing on the list to worry about. That’s why we’ve put together some simple suggestions for how to improve the thermal comfort and air quality of your building.

The Importance of an Intelligent Building Support System

A key step to maintaining a healthy building is consistent, reliable and secure access to data from the range of systems that operate your space. It is essential to implement an intelligent building support system with advanced analytics, monitoring, and controls that align with your building management system (BMS) and provide actionable improvement opportunities that are carefully measured, monitored, and reported.

The chart below recommends key improvement strategies for sustainable intelligent facilities that support a well-functioning operation.

INTELLIGENT BUILDING INTEGRATIONS

ENVIRONMENTAL SUPPORT

IAQ Sensors

Install IAQ sensors to gain visibility into contaminants that may be present, bring that data into your central analytics platform to provide actionable insights or facilitate demand-based controls.

Intelligent Analytics

Measure and analyze indoor air quality and ventilation to detect high concentrations of specific contaminants like CO2, total volatile organic compounds (TVOC), relative humidity, smoke, and other toxins. 

Use the best data available in the commissioning of building systems to calculate and regulate temperatures, HVAC controls, and ventilation according to industry standards and organizational thermal/IAQ goals.

Smart Controls for Sick Buildings

Adhere to WELL Building and ASHRAE standards by integrating expert support to regulate indoor air quality concerns and manage key IAQ offenders. Work with a provider who will carefully calculate metrics and make changes to efficiently meet industry standards.

Additionally, prevent health issues caused by exposure to pollutants with intelligent dashboard monitoring, reporting, and controls.

Sterilization and Digital Cleaning Processes for Return-to-Work

Measure and set preferred thermal quality and building health KPIs. Work with a partner that can ensure that proper digital cleaning practices are in place as well as track sterilization processes.

In addition to implementing an intelligent building support system, there are a few more key steps to improving conditions inside your building. Next, we will discuss some maintenance best practices and analytics recommendations for solving complex issues.

How to Improve Thermal Comfort and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Thermal comfort and indoor air quality are only improved when your building’s HVAC system  maintains the right temperature, humidity, and ventilation. You can help occupants be healthier and more comfortable by doing the following:

  • Install communicating thermostats with open protocol support to help you maintain optimal temperatures in your building. Maintaining thermal comfort is not just about the temperature setpoints. Knowing when the HVAC system must start to reach those setpoints or how effective the system is at achieving those setpoint requires a direct connection to each thermostat. 
  • Install indoor air quality sensors. CO2, TVOC, particulates and other contaminants all have different sources and different impacts on our health. Continuously monitoring for these contaminants is the only way to know if you have a problem and how you might fix it.  
  • Centralize your data. You can’t fix things you can't see, and you can’t monitor everything in realtime. Ensure full visibility into all your equipment and spaces by integrating all your systems into a common platform. A smart monitoring system should include comprehensive, connected sensors for everything from equipment operation to temperature and indoor air quality that report to a central repository and present data visually and with mobile compatibility.
  • Implement data-driven maintenance. When your BMS equipment and interconnected devices are regularly monitored and analytics are continually reported, data collected via temperature, humidity, and air quality sensors can be analyzed and acted upon before impacting occupants. Additionally, automated changes can be configured to proactively maintain your system based on predefined conditions. Essentially, a high-quality, integrated system will evaluate, identify, and troubleshoot HVAC issues and manage automated set points related to IAQ, thermal comfort and much more. 
  • Utilize predictive maintenance and intelligent analytics. Well-maintained equipment relies on predictive rather than reactive maintenance processes. Intelligent analytics, along with smart monitoring and control suggestions, can improve your thermal comfort and indoor air quality and keep your equipment running at peak performance for the long-term. Predictive analysis enables you to preemptively heat or cool an area, adjusting equipment schedules based on demand to ensure occupant comfort while minimizing equipment runtime and reducing energy consumption rates.
  • Maximize ventilation and filtration. Meeting minimum standards is no longer the recommendation of the building industry. In order to ensure indoor air quality, existing controls may need to be reversed, maximizing the amount of fresh air introduced while still maintaining thermal comfort. This can be accomplished by increasing minimum damper positions and fan speeds, extending operating hours, and implementing modified economizer controls. In addition, MERV 13 or the highest grade filters possible, is recommended for all indoor environments. 

Partnering with a Smart Analytics Team

Each of the strategies above can improve the thermal comfort and indoor air quality of your building. We recommend that you implement automated and demand-based controls for IAQ, thermal comfort, and digital cleaning processes, and improve overall operational efficiency, via an enterprise-level intelligent building analytics, monitoring, and controls strategy. The best place to start is by contacting an expert provider to discuss integrating an intuitive system centered around comfort and air quality. 

Buildings IOT offers the thermal comfort and indoor air quality services and strategies you need for a well-maintained facility. Contact our team of experts today.

 

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