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  • Real-Time IAQ Monitoring: Key Lessons Learned

Real-Time IAQ Monitoring: Key Lessons Learned

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  • By Ryan Dick
  • Date June 17th, 2016 12:20
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  • We had the opportunity to share our work with a select group of corporate tenants, developers, hospitality and healthcare companies in Seattle. Graciously hosted by B+H Architects’ Seattle office, Glumac Engineers and OpenSquare the event gave us an opportunity to share what we’ve learned from tracking IAQ in projects around the world. The ensuing discussion provided insights into the needs, value, and barriers to IAQ measurement and reporting for stakeholders throughout the building supply chain. 

    Over the past 3 years, we’ve reviewed real-time IAQ data from over 1800 projects. Consistent, on-going data points have revealed key patterns and trends that affect indoor air quality and occupant health and wellness: 


    IAQ problems are not unique to cities with heavy outdoor pollution. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs) are measurable in all spaces, even green certified spaces. Filling a space with finishes and people has a measurable impact on IAQ in any geography. 

    Impacts of Occupant Activity

    Occupant activity accounts for 20-30% of measured IAQ results. Often, HVAC systems are designed to filter 100% of of pollutants and particulates at Air Handling Units. Real-time data shows that TVOCs in LEED Gold certified buildings may exceed international health limits due to material off-gassing. For optimal IAQ results, it’s best to recirculate air at individual spaces to account for occupant activity. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to target 75% filtration at the AHU and cover the remaining filtration needs within each individual space. 

    Optimize Filtration and Ventilation

    HVAC codes are conservative; systems are typically designed to address maximum occupancy and pollution loads. IAQ results show that energy costs can be optimized when HVAC systems are operated according to actual measured IAQ results. This practice can reduce energy consumption (by as much as 80% in particulate-laden geographies) while ensuring healthy IAQ. 


    Select a Monitoring and Communication Strategy that Fits

    Monitors can be added in ducts, mounted on walls, or placed on table-tops and can be added to existing projects or new construction. Data can be read thru LAN, WiFi or cellular connections. It’s feasible to monitor any space or project. The first step is to select a strategy to adequately measure desired spaces. Monitoring staff work spaces is an easy and effective starting point. Tenants and building owners usually kept IAQ data private until they are comfortable to share the results. The most significant benefits of real-time IAQ monitoring and reporting: 

    • Sharing IAQ data builds trust with occupants and reduces employee turnover. 
    • Heathy projects increase cognitive function of occupants and typically reduce sick-leave. 
    • As sensors and monitors become smaller and more wearable, there is a significant opportunity to get ahead of occupant demands. 

    Author: Ryan Dick, Founder and COO of GIGA

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