Building owners and property managers adopt new technology for the new normal.
The coronavirus pandemic has delivered a wake-up call: we can no longer take for granted the air we breathe.
According to public health scientists, gathering outdoors dramatically reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission. But the fact remains that we spend as much as 90 percent of our time indoors. In Canada, our climate during much of the year requires it.
As the Vancouver-based National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH) notes:
The COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened the urgency around improving indoor air quality (IAQ) due to the heightened risks of respiratory viral infection in indoor spaces compared to outdoors. A re-examination of the indoor environment is needed to plan ahead for the emergence of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and to understand ongoing risks if endemic COVID-19 persists in the longer term, alongside other respiratory pathogens.
For building owners and facility managers, this new reality casts the efficacy of their HVAC filtration in a whole new light. What defines air as “clean” now must meet a higher standard. How can they assure those who live, work, and visit their buildings that the air inside is safe?
A renewed focus on preventing “sick” indoor air environments
The indoor air quality of commercial and other types of multi-tenant properties have long been a concern. As far back as 1986, the World Health Organization (WHO) coined the term “Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS) for when building occupants experience acute health effects and discomfort with no specific illness or cause identified. One survey released in August 2021 reported 73 percent of North Americans do not feel confident in the air quality in offices or condominiums.
Of course, the risks to indoor air are more than just virus molecules. Multiple other forms of particulates or noxious gases can circulate indoors and negatively impact the health of those living, working, or visiting there, including: carbon monoxide (CO), nitrous dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2); mold spores, bacteria, dust, and smoke; and Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as those in solvents, fuel oxygenates, or by-products of water chlorination, like chloroform.
But as the NCCEH reported in June 2021, the rise of COVID-19 variants “has also prompted a re-examination of the indoor environment more widely, with a focus on how to improve and maintain healthy indoor air quality while mitigating against the risks of pathogens circulating in the community.”
Visualizing changes to indoor air quality
For facility managers, this live data helps them better understand how the air quality in their buildings fluctuates and make informed decisions in the moment. Through notification controls, they can be alerted when indoor air quality or HVAC operating metrics fall below set standards or thresholds, allowing them to respond quickly to prevent complaints and illness.
As the raw data is collected, facility managers can also visualize it all on intuitive web-based dashboards that help verify baselines, trends, and anomalies – whether that’s within a single building, or across an entire portfolio. By identifying these trends over time, facility managers can proactively adjust for when, where and why air quality degradation might occur. Facility managers can also generate reports on activity within the building in order to share progress with operators and stakeholders, and provide evidence of air quality and improvement.
At the same time as data is being collected, air purification systems can provide continuous decontamination. Needlepoint bi-polar ionization technology significantly reduces the existence of particles, including smoke, and kills pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and mold. This can help alleviate symptoms caused by allergens and asthma, and neutralize odours by destroying VOCs.
Optimizing energy consumption
Of course, real-time updates about air quality changes will often trace back to HVAC system performance. That’s why one of the biggest benefits for smart air monitoring systems is how it helps facilities improve HVAC energy efficiency and embrace sustainability as a greener building. Predictive analytics can help reduce operational costs and pre-emptively address any potential equipment malfunctions.
Smart buildings are safer buildings
Rogers for Business has partnered with IES Ventures to offer Smart Air Monitoring and Purification solutions as part of its growing Smart Building portfolio. With access to best-in-class technology partners, Canada’s most trusted network* and our team of dedicated Smart Building experts, Rogers can help you optimize building infrastructure and operational efficiency and safety. Our solutions can seamlessly integrate with your existing systems to deliver real-time insights so you can make meaningful decisions.
To learn how smart air quality monitoring and purification can make your buildings healthier, contact a Rogers for Business representative.
This post is part of a series on transforming cities with smart technology. Check out the related posts here.