In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) in our built environment. As we spend a significant portion of our time indoors, whether at home, in offices, schools, hospitals, or other enclosed spaces, the quality of the air we breathe has a direct impact on our health, well-being, and productivity. Designing buildings with a focus on improving indoor air quality is no longer an option but a necessity. In this blog, we will explore various design strategies and considerations that can help create healthier indoor environments.
A well-designed ventilation system is crucial for maintaining good IAQ. It ensures the exchange of indoor and outdoor air, reducing the concentration of pollutants and increasing the supply of fresh air. Natural ventilation strategies, such as operable windows and building orientation, should be considered where possible. Additionally, mechanical ventilation systems should be properly sized, regularly maintained, and equipped with efficient filters to remove airborne contaminants effectively.
- The VelociCalc® Multi-Function Ventilation Meter 9600 series is designed with a built-in workflow for calculating the percentage of outside air used to determine ventilation effectiveness in a building or room. This instrument can help you and your teams determine the buildings ventilation effectiveness.
The selection of building materials and finishes can significantly impact indoor air quality. Many conventional construction materials, such as certain paints, adhesives, and carpets, emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful substances into the air. Opting for low-VOC or VOC-free materials can greatly reduce indoor air pollution. It's essential to carefully evaluate the emission rates of materials and choose those with third-party certifications.
- The Q-Trak™ XP Indoor Air Quality Monitor is a flexible, multi-parameter IAQ instrument that can be configured, customized and expanded to monitor and maintain optimal indoor air quality. Simultaneously measure up to 20 IAQ parameters, up to 6 different gases, PM2.5 and PM10, temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, percent of outside air, along with dew point and wet bulb temperatures. This instrument can help you and your teams determine VOC rates coming from chosen materials.
Integrating indoor plants into building design not only enhances aesthetics but also improves IAQ. Plants have the ability to naturally purify the air by absorbing pollutants and releasing oxygen. Incorporating biophilic design principles, such as green walls or indoor gardens, can create a healthy and soothing environment, reducing stress and enhancing overall well-being.
Excess moisture in buildings can lead to the growth of mold, mildew, and other allergens, compromising IAQ and causing respiratory issues. Proper moisture control management through effective waterproofing, adequate ventilation in moisture-prone areas like bathrooms and kitchens, and regular maintenance can prevent the buildup of harmful microorganisms.
In addition to ventilation systems, standalone air filtration and purification systems can provide an extra layer of protection against airborne pollutants. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are particularly effective at capturing fine particles, including allergens, dust, and some viruses. Advanced air cleaning technologies, such as ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) and photocatalytic oxidation, can further enhance the removal of bacteria, viruses, and volatile compounds.
- The AirAssure Continuous Indoor Air Quality Monitor equips you to track levels of PM, other traditional IAQ parameters, and up to 6 gases. You can also view, analyze and share actionable data all within the cloud-based TSI Link™ software solution. This instrument can help you and your teams continuously monitor the air quality within rooms to verify and provide documentation keeping you in compliance with governing bodies that oversee commercial IAQ.
A well-designed lighting system that maximizes natural light can not only reduce energy consumption but also improve IAQ. Natural light has a positive effect on circadian rhythms and promotes a sense of well-being. Adequate daylighting and access to views of the outdoors have been linked to increased productivity, improved mood, and better overall health.
Designing buildings with a focus on improving indoor air quality is essential for creating healthier and more sustainable spaces. By implementing proper ventilation systems, selecting low-emission materials, incorporating plants and biophilic design, managing moisture effectively, utilizing air filtration, and installing continuous air quality monitors, you can create indoor environments that promote well-being, productivity, and a breath of fresh air. As designers, architects, and building professionals, it is pertinent to prioritize IAQ and create spaces that support the overall health and happiness of occupants.
SUSTAINABLE BUILDING PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES:
- LEED: the low-emitting materials credit intends to reduce chemical contaminant concentrations that can harm human health, productivity, and the environment.
- WELL Building Standard: this standard emphasizes the use of low-VOC-emitting materials in the construction of the building.
- RESET: the RESET Air Index is an index for communicating indoor environment quality (IEQ) based on concentrations of multiple types of pollutants. Unlike AQI, which only reflects the worst pollutant, the RESET Air Index is designed to reflect all pollutants.
- ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2019 - Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality: provides minimum ventilation rates and other measures for new and existing buildings that are intended to provide indoor air quality that is acceptable to human occupants and that minimizes adverse healtheffects.
- ASHRAE Standard 55-2017 - Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy: provides conditions for acceptable thermal environments intended for use in design, operation, and commissioning of buildings and other occupied spaces.