Exceed tenant expectations of indoor air by regulating air quality for greater health, productivity and comfort.
CO2 levels, humidity and temperature are a few of the numerous ways that determine the air quality of an indoor environment. Independently, these variables play their own unique role in determining the indoor air, but combined, they can also influence the overall comfort of the space.
Air quality can be affected by a number of factors which include overcrowding, the presence of pollutants and the effectiveness of the building’s ventilation. Regulating the quality of indoor air provides a range of benefits not only for the health and wellbeing of its occupants but also for the performance of the building itself.
The Importance of Indoor Air Quality in a Commercial Office Space
It is not uncommon for commercial office spaces to have minimal natural ventilation, lack of natural lighting and a dense population inside. The more people inside the space, the greater the levels of CO2, which causes heat levels to rise and the quality of the air to decrease.
Building owners need to ensure that there is a constant and adequate amount of fresh air, backed by enough heating and cooling units to keep the indoor environment at a high standard for tenants. Air quality and comfort levels have a significant affect on employees’ overall performance and efficiency, making it of vital importance for the performance of the business.
The crucial problem that building owners might need to solve is deciding how much air is required to ensure the indoor air quality is maintained to a high standard. Pulling fresh air into a building can be extremely costly as it requires a large amount of energy to condition the air before distributing it throughout the building.
Another problem is improving the quality whilst also keeping operating costs low. Here’s a closer look at 5 effective strategies to improve indoor air quality to keep occupants safe and comfortable without compromising efficiency.
1. Use People Counting Technology to Determine the Correct Amount of Air
In accordance with Australian Standard 1668.2, there is a minimal requirement of 10 l/s of air per person that needs to be ventilated through the building during occupancy. In most buildings, the minimum outside air quantity required is fixed based on the number of occupied floors.
Using people counting technology to accurately measure the number of people per room will ensure management always know the exact amount of air needed per person, providing enhanced comfort and reducing the building’s energy consumption by providing less airflow to unoccupied rooms.
2. Create an Assessment of the Floor Plan for Effective CO2 Control
One of the key determinants of indoor air quality is the density of CO2 within the space. An accurate measure of CO2 is crucial as the greater number of people within the space, the higher the levels of CO2.
Measuring CO2 can be challenging as in typical open floor plans, occupants are spread out over a space, making the CO2 difficult to read depending on the air sensors’ location. By creating a detailed assessment of seating plans, businesses can decide where to best install air sensors for an accurate measure of CO2 levels.
3. Maintain Clear Filters
Over time, the contaminants in the air build up, and without proper filtration, can become a serious health hazard for occupants. The build-up of contaminants can prompt things like legionella when the indoor environment becomes humid. Depending on the location of the building and the impact of latent conditions such as salt water and dust levels, the amount of time needed before replacing the air filters may vary.
One of the easiest ways to determine the need for a replacement is by measuring the filter differential pressure drop. The task may appear to be relatively simple, but it is more complex than what most people anticipate it to be. For a fixed speed system, the problem can be fixed relatively simply, by assigning a fixed pressure setpoint alarm the relevant parties will be notified once the pressure drop increases.
The situation is much more complicated for the variable air volume system, where fans operate at a variable speed in response to the field demand. Therefore, the previously mentioned solution won’t work as maximum flow conditions are only experienced a few days a year during extreme weather conditions.
To resolve this issue, it is suggested to implement a variable threshold that is linearly correlated to the fan speed or duct static pressure. Businesses can design such strategies to ensure that blockage of the filter and the need for a replacement are detected correctly.
4. Operational Economy Cycles
The economy cycle term relates to the building’s air conditioning services utilising outside air when conditions are favourable.
However, determining favourable conditions is not a simple task as multiple variables have to be taken into consideration to ensure that focusing on fresh air does not compromise the plant’s capacity and thermal condition.
To execute an efficient economy cycle, the building’s HVAC systems control and ensure the correct operation of the dampers and or supplementary fans to direct increased quantities of fresh air to the spaces it serves.
Modulating actuators and variable speed drives can provide more efficient and less disruptive operations for the economic cycle, ensuring that its benefits are sustained for a prolonged period of time. Businesses can also design strategies to fully utilise the external environment by maximising the usage of fresh air when favourable to provide efficient cooling and ventilation.
5. Regular Maintenance and Tuning
Regular maintenance and tuning allow for all assets of the building to operate at peak efficiency. This includes maintaining all the HVAC systems to achieve peak intern environment comfort conditions.
The tuning process helps dial in the system which will minimise overcooling and overheating to achieve the most comfortable conditions for the end-user while reducing energy consumption.
There are many ways to ensure that your building is providing the cleanest air for the most comfortable indoor environment, but these 5 strategies are the most effective way to increase occupant satisfaction without impacting the building’s operations.
Utilising people counting technology will help to accurately measure the correct number of people with an adequate amount of air. Assessing the floor plan to measure density and decide where to best place the air quality sensors will ensure an accurate measure of CO2.
Ensuring filters are well maintained as well as regular tuning and maintenance of the building’s HVAC systems will ensure that energy consumption stays low and keeps costs down while comfort conditions stay high. Lastly, fully utilising outside air can also save on energy and consumption costs.
For more information on how you can enhance your indoor air quality for occupants’ health and wellbeing without impacting the operations or costs of your building, contact us today. Leading Edge Automation make managing buildings’ air quality simpler with our tailor-made and effective CO2 control solutions.