Healthy Indoors


Monitoring indoor climate pays big dividends

Putting your indoor spaces on the right track toward being healthy, productive environments begins like all successful projects: with the sound analysis of the existing conditions.

Monitoring indoor climate pays big dividends

Analysis and ongoing monitoring

That means the gathering of critical data, such as CO2, temperature, humidity, fine particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) levels, etc. Sensors are helpful for this, providing the initial information and later helping to monitor the status. Once you know what your problems are, you can design your solutions or make the necessary modifications.

It is possible to retrofit any building with a sensor-based monitoring system, either integral or standalone. If combined with motion detectors, fully integrated systems can even determine the number of room occupants. Monitoring systems permit the automated reaction to changes in fresh air influx, temperature and humidity before indoor air can become a hazard to occupants’ health. There are many smart systems that can measure, analyze and manage in order to improve the indoor environment, while delivering energy savings.

Monitoring the air we breathe

When the World Health Organization (WHO) released their newest indoor air quality guidelines, many questioned whether workplace environments could meet the requirements. Since indoor environments are subject to contaminants generated both indoors and outdoors, there is a very real need to monitor air quality in real time.

WHO identified both particulate and molecular contamination as key concerns when it comes to the air we breathe. The constant monitoring of particulates is of primary importance because people, processes and the environment constantly generate them. Trying to ensure that your building meets the WHO air quality guidelines of 5µg/m3 for PM2.5 and 10µg/m3 for PM10 levels is key. The Organization raised the threshold, reducing former limits, with PM2.5 seeing a 50% reduction. This shows how critical the smallest particles are. Monitoring these levels is absolutely necessary to providing a healthy indoor environment.

Monitoring is essential to building certifications

Proof of consistently managed indoor air quality by means of continuous sensor measurement is an important requirement for many building certification programs. The leading standards for building sustainability and health are the US LEED program, the UK BREEAM assessment method, the German DGNB and the international WELL certificate. The WELL Building Standard is the first assessment system to concentrate on a single objective, namely designing buildings and interior spaces to provide a dependably positive influence on the health and wellbeing of their users.

Fulfilling the monitoring requirements set by these standards usually involves collecting statistics on ventilation performance and the resulting improvements to indoor air quality that it achieves. These standards also stipulate various exposure limit values and benchmarks in terms of air exchange rates, concentrations of particulate matter and ozone, VOC emissions and relative humidity.

Monitoring and ventilation

A healthy, comfortable and energy-efficient indoor climate benefits everyone. Regular maintenance and continuous monitoring are crucial to maximizing a ventilation system’s service life and operational performance, the latter essential to the indoor climate quality.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the buildings and building construction sectors together are responsible for 40% of the total global energy consumption and 33% of greenhouse gas emissions.1 Unfortunately, despite all we know about global warming, it is still quite common to see open windows in buildings where the ventilation and heating are running at full speed, an unfathomable waste of energy. Today, such occurrences are inexcusable, and there are many solutions available.

Demand-controlled systems offer significant advantages

Among the best are demand-controlled systems, which deliver enormous energy savings, making operation less costly and mitigating the carbon footprint. Such smart systems analyze and determine buildings’ needs in real time, regulating the supply of heat, chilling, humidification, air flow and exchange, and filtration. Savings of 80% in energy expended for air movement and 40% for heating are possible.  

Demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) involves the manual or automated regulation of airflow to meet current requirements as they occur. Timers and sensors are just two of the possible solutions that allow the regulation of airflow based on occupancy. These systems keep indoor environments healthy and comfortable, both of which are important to productivity.

Smart systems deliver economy, comfort and good health

There are many types of buildings that benefit from demand-controlled ventilation, including schools, which see some of the most significant changes in occupancy and activity throughout the course of a day. But there are others. Mixed-use buildings, containing apartments, restaurants, gyms present significant economic and sustainability challenges if all these units are to operate simultaneously at full capacity due to full occupancy.

As mentioned above, it is unnecessary, indeed wasteful, to provide the same volume of airflow to spaces for both full and empty occupancy. Constant air ventilation (CAV) is not only constant, as its name implies, it is often just too much air for the normal use of the space, a feature such systems employ to compensate for full occupation utilization, which is a situation that rarely occurs.

A demand-controlled ventilation system is the solution to the above ‘static' ventilation method. The graph below offers a comparison of both systems.

Determining the occupancy of a building’s indoor spaces and adjusting the ventilation accordingly, can produce significant energy savings:

·       Up to 80% energy savings for air handling

·       Up to 40% energy savings for cooling and heating compared to basic ventilation 

Research shows that there is a distinct link between indoor quality and health. A pleasant work space environment with high comfort is important for employees, and provides employers and landlords with measurable benefits.

Smart indoor climate systems create comfortable indoor environments with minimal energy consumption and maximum energy recovery.