5 Ways Facility Managers Can Improve Indoor Environmental Quality
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) rightfully gets a lot of attention. We spend more than 90% of our time indoors, and there are plenty of studies that indicate the impact that IAQ has on our health and even on cognition and task performance. But it’s important to consider your facility’s overall Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ), which includes not only a building’s air quality, but also conditions like lighting and acoustics and how they affect the building’s inhabitants. Good indoor environmental quality can enhance employees’ experience at work, reduce stress, and improve health and wellness.
How can you improve your facility’s IEQ? Here are a few things to consider.
Your HVAC system plays a major role in IEQ. Not only does it impact your indoor air quality by keeping your office space well ventilated, it’s also essential to maintaining the thermal comfort levels in your organization. Temperature is one of the most common complaints from employees about office working conditions, so maintaining thermal comfort levels is a key component of employee wellness – and employee productivity. Ensuring your HVAC system is regularly serviced and working properly will go a long way towards keeping indoor air quality and thermal comfort at optimal levels. It’s also important to ensure air filters maintained as needed based on building occupancy hours.
A regular cleaning and maintenance schedule is a vital component to creating a well-maintained space and positive environment for your employees and visitors. But talk with your cleaning service provider about the types of cleaning materials being used; harsh products can release chemicals into the air, which is just as detrimental to indoor air quality as the dust and germs they’re cleaning up.
Carpet cleaning can also positively impact indoor air quality by removing dirt, allergens, VOCs, and other pollutants.
Your choice of flooring can impact your IEQ in multiple ways. Different flooring type can affect indoor air quality; for instance, Vinyl Composition Tiles (VCT) maintenance can release wax particulates into the breathing zone and HVAC system. In contrast, carpet tiles are able to trap airborne irritants and allergens within its fibers, acting as a filter to keep those contaminates out of the breathing zone until they can be removed by vacuuming.
Flooring choice also impacts IEQ through acoustics. Noise levels can negatively affect both IEQ and employee productivity. Particularly in open offices, where there are no walls to block sound, flooring can have a significant impact on noise levels. A quieter space can boost productivity and lower stress levels. Consider open-cell cushion-backed carpet, which has been shown to absorb over 50% more noise than hard-backed products. A quieter space will boost productivity, but in addition it simply makes for a more pleasant, less stressful working environment.
Bright, well-lit spaces are not only more welcoming to employees and guest -- exposure to natural light is also proven to improve health and wellness. Take advantage of natural light within your facility wherever possible. Consider using glass for partitions instead of opaque walls, or converting some sections from a closed environment to an open office to allow the light to travel further through your office space.
Some indoor plants can help filter and improve the quality and circulation of indoor air. Some of the plants found effective for indoor air quality enhancement by a NASA study are Boston fern, golden pothos, dracaena, bamboo palm, peace lily, and the spider plant. But plants impact more than just the air quality; they can also positively affect the mood of your facility’s occupants – biophilic design can reduce stress, enhance creativity and clarity of thought, and improve our well-being.
If you're interested in improving your IEQ, MilliCare can help. Contact us today to find out how our wide range of services can positively impact your facility.