The average person spends 90 percent of his or her time indoors. That is why air quality in buildings is of the utmost importance, especially in high-occupancy places such as schools, offices, health care environments, and senior living facilities. Contaminated air impacts all building occupants’ health and may make poor impressions on customers.
By implementing green building designs in these facilities, we can take cleanliness to the next level. Facility and building managers have the opportunity to deliver the benefits of clean air, which include increased productivity, customer loyalty, and general well-being.
Green Building Design
Green building, or sustainable design, is the practice of increasing the efficiency in the use of energy, water, and materials to build or maintain a building. It reduces the impact on the environment and the health of building occupants. Green-building concepts extend beyond the walls of buildings and include site planning and community and land-use planning issues as well.
The Environmental Protection Agency offers programs to educate and improve the major components of green building. You can find useful information on:
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Water Efficiency
- Environmentally Preferable Building Materials
- Waste Reduction
- Toxins Reduction
- Indoor Air Quality
- Smart Growth and Sustainable Development
With the growing number of chemicals in furniture, cleaning supplies, and construction materials, the importance of green building design is even greater. Occupants of buildings should have access to cleaner air to help improve comfort and increase productivity. A positive first step for any building or business owner is to improve its social responsibility with sustainable design.
Improving indoor air quality helps to eliminate contaminants before they are inhaled.
A few simple, proactive measures allow indoor air in buildings to be cleaner by reducing allergens, airborne viruses, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Though most of these pollutants are invisible, they can significantly impact the health of those occupying the building. By tackling indoor air quality proactively, building owners can save time and money, and deliver a cleaner facility.
1. Control Sources of Contaminants
The source control aspect of green building is the most accessible and affordable. Testing for hazardous contaminants lets the owners know what is in the air. Once this factor is known, these contaminants can effectively be removed from the building.
Another form of source control is simply avoiding the use of certain cleaning and maintenance products. VOCs can be released into the air when certain chemicals are sprayed on surfaces. These products can trigger headaches and dizziness, as well as asthma or allergy attacks.
2. Improve Ventilation
One reason indoor air quality suffers is that many buildings are designed to be airtight to cut down on energy costs. This often leads to inadequate ventilation which can lead to other problems such as moisture buildup and mold growth.
Occupants working or living in older buildings may be exposed to hazardous building materials such as formaldehyde, lead or asbestos, when there is no proper ventilation. These unsafe contaminants linger in limited airspace.
Improving ventilation is a complex problem. Ventilation systems may be insufficient for the current needs of building occupants. Green building design can improve an existing building’s air quality.
3. Air Filtration
Air cleaners are a simple solution to reduce airborne contaminants. These devices are a targeted solution that provide infection control against airborne pathogens. Implementing commercial grade air purifiers to eliminate odors, germs and other contaminants in common areas is one way to improve indoor air quality.
Commercial-grade air purifiers with HEPA filters effectively reduce allergens, VOCs, odors, and even viruses such as influenza. According to the Department of Energy, true HEPA filters must reach the standard efficiency of removing 99.97 percent of these particles.
Benefits of Green Building
Improving indoor air quality is universally beneficial, creating healthier outcomes for all building occupants. Occupants and workers can rest assured that they are working or living in a healthy environment. Benefits can fall into 3 separate categories:
- Enhance occupant health and comfort
- Improve indoor air quality
- Minimize strain on local utility infrastructure
- Improve overall quality of life
- Enhance and protect ecosystems
- Improve air and water quality
- Reduce pollution and waste streams
- Conserve and restore natural resources
- Reduce operating costs
- Improve occupant productivity
Green buildings offer the best of both worlds: economic and environmental benefits. Building owners and managers can improve the comfort and health of occupants starting with better air quality.
RT Construction can help you achieve your sustainable design goals. We have an experienced team to make your building, whether new or existing, the best in conserving energy, water, and improving indoor air quality.