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Office Indoor Air Quality: HVAC Systems [Part 2]

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hvac Indoor Air QualityThink of the heating and cooling system in your building as a living and breathing unit that provides fresh air to the occupants. If pollutants enter the air supply it contaminates the entire air system. Additionally, if the core of the HVAC system is unhealthy it will affect the indoor air quality levels. Broken, neglected, or improperly maintained HVAC systems will not effectively purify the air and will contribute to poor indoor air quality levels and the negative effects that come with it.

Indoor air quality continuously changes and requires problem solving skills and professional industry experience to identify and correct the factors that are causing the air quality issues.

Layout Problems

There are a few easy ways to try and improve air quality in the office. The physical layout of desks and other office furniture can have an impact on the air flow if air vents or grilles are blocked; these items should be moved or rearranged as an attempt to improve IAQ. Wall dividers or cubicle layouts can affect air circulation patterns resulting in stale air or inconsistent ventilation.

Issues with the HVAC Structure

Taking action to improve air quality by reducing pollutant exposure and rearranging furniture is a great way to help improve IAQ. But if the problem persists, then the issue is either with the HVAC system itself or with the HVAC design.

If your HVAC system does not receive routine maintenance and checkups then it will not perform optimally and could result in clogged air filters and an overall reduction of airflow pressure.

Additional IAQ concerns arise when offices or buildings undergo interior renovations that do not take the ventilation system into consideration. These renovations can affect the circulation of air and place more strain on the HVAC system. The square footage of space per person is also a major factor that determines the quality of the air in a building, and unfortunately recent trends suggest that office workspaces are getting smaller which can have a significant impact on the quality of the air that employees breathe in.

Outdoor Air Supply

Poor indoor air quality levels can be attributed to problems with the air on the outside of the building. If the fresh air intake is damaged or blocked then the building will receive inadequate air renewals. The air will feel stale and stuffy and employees will tire easily or get sick more often.

The quality of the outdoor air is a major factor as well. If the air intake is close to an area where cars idle then carbon monoxide will enter the ventilation system. Allergens like dust and pollen can enter into the air if filters are not properly maintained.

Your HVAC unit, office design or layout, or the chemicals and allergens that are present in the building are a few of the root causes of poor indoor air quality. Getting an expert IAQ analyst to test, correct, and monitor air quality levels is the best way to protect your employees.

In our next article we’ll offer more tips on how to improve indoor air quality in your office or facility, and we’ll outline some policies you can create to reduce the amount of contaminants that enter the building and pollute the air.

>>ICS offers customizable HVAC maintenance plans for office towers and facilities in the Greater Toronto Area. Most plans include indoor air quality testing; find a plan for your building today.

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Dave Morrison is the General Manager at Intelligent Comfort Solutions. He has over 20 years of experience in residential and commercial HVAC maintenance, repair, installation, and indoor air quality improvement. He prides himself on finding the best HVAC solution for your business, and building a lasting relationship that your business can depend on. Dave is known for his open and honest communication and his friendly top notch customer service.

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