With summer’s arrival, the US was eager to move on from COVID. However, the effects of the pandemic remained and will for quite some time. That includes concerns about indoor air quality. Many factors affect the quality of air indoors. From leaky roofs to deteriorating insulation, poor IAQ lowers worker morale, impacts cognitive functioning, and increases energy costs. We addressed these IAQ threats throughout the year and offered solutions to improve indoor air and save money.
Reducing Energy Costs with HVAC Improvements
In addition to IAQ threats, operating costs also concern business owners. The good news is improving indoor air quality also results in lower energy bills. A more efficient system uses less energy, requires fewer maintenance calls, and remains operational longer. We recommended coil cleaning as a way to save money. Anything that prevents the evaporator coil from functioning properly makes the whole system work harder. As a result, energy costs go up. For owners of commercial buildings, the expense of routine HVAC cleaning and maintenance yields a quick return on investment. The payback period for this expenditure is therefore shortened for building managers who include HVAC inspections and cleaning in their yearly maintenance contracts.
The most important benefit of reducing IAQ threats is the improved health of workers. Healthy workers are more productive with fewer missed days of work. In schools and universities, cleaner air leads to higher test scores too.
Addressing IAQ in Schools
As the school year got underway, we addressed ventilation concerns in school buildings. Poor airflow in crowded school rooms means IAQ suffers. Combined with the location of many schools next to highways and busy streets, this puts children at risk. Fixing indoor air quality issues in schools is a priority and the funds available as part of the Cares Act help facilities managers make needed changes. Before addressing IAQ threats in schools, however, it’s important to understand the baselines.
To fix these issues, we recommended the WTI – PACS Building Health Check to evaluate indoor environmental conditions. This includes allergen screenings and mold assessments in addition to surface sample testing, and the measuring of relative humidity, wall moisture, and temperature. After the collection and analysis of samples occur, a detailed report gives facilities managers the information needed to fix school IAQ issues. Going forward, Building Remediation Sciences offers several systems and methods to clean and disinfect HVAC equipment.
IAQ Threats Posed by Commercial Roof Leaks
Regardless of the season, wet weather impacts the building envelope in negative ways. As a result, commercial roof leaks present a challenge for building managers already facing tight budgets. While the temptation to put off roof repairs exists, ignoring the problem of water intrusion creates more expensive problems further down the road. For example, a leaky roof is an IAQ threat as it allows for the growth of fungus and bacteria. In turn, this leads to sick and less productive employees. It also leads to higher energy costs and costly repairs as building materials deteriorate. Addressing leaky roofs is a proactive measure that saves money and keeps building occupants safe.
Fiberglass and Health
In the fall of this year, we examined the link between asbestos insulation exposure and mesothelioma. We highlighted the danger of fiberglass used as building and HVAC insulation, While cancer is an extreme potential risk, fiberglass insulation presents other health problems as well. For example, once tiny fibers enter the ventilation system they move throughout the building causing irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Fiberglass is also an asthma trigger. To assess and reduce IAQ threats, WTI – PACS recommends an HVAC Hygiene Assessment to diagnose potential issues. Samples sent to the Laboratory at WTI | Pure Air undergo testing for bacteria and fungi. After issuing the final report, PURE-Duct is recommended for remediation. In addition to this method, New Life Restoration replaces existing fiberglass with zero-porosity, fiberglass-free insulation.
Face IAQ Threats Today
Many of the IAQ threats we saw in 2022 resulted from the pandemic, while some issues are always concerns for building owners and managers. Regardless of the issue, however, addressing IAQ threats keeps workers safe and operational costs low. We will continue to address these issues in the new year, and if you have questions, please contact WTI – PACS at 1-800-422-7873 or email us here.