If you want your employees to perform better, you should improve your indoor air quality as much as possible. That’s according to a recent study by Environmental Health Perspectives about indoor air quality. The study found that subjects performed cognitive functions 61 percent better when working in “Green” building environments (with lower-than-normal AOCs and CO2) as opposed to an environment with standard levels of Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and CO2. VOC’s are carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate into the air at room temperature. Harmful VOCs are not typically toxic, but they could have compounding long-term health effects. Furthermore, when working “Green+” buildings (with even lower VOC and CO2 levels) those same workers performed 101 percent better than when working in rooms with standard levels. These percentages are astounding.
Common materials found in facilities that can emit high levels of VOCs include drywall, furniture, carpeting, paint, printer and copier toner, solvents, adhesives and cleaning supplies.
The total amount of VOCs (TVOCs) allowed in an office environment, according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is v4 is 500 μg/m3. This is a range most organizations exceed.
Similarly, CO2 is considered an indoor pollutant, which, in high concentrations, can cause headaches and drowsiness, as well as hamper cognitive function. The level of CO2 found in most offices is around 900 ppm. In an ideal situation, levels in your facility should be around 550 ppm.
The primary source for CO2 in an office or facility is employees, who exhale CO2 as they breathe.
How to reduce VOCs
- Before purchasing new products, ensure you select products that emit the lowest levels of VOCs. There are a couple of online resources to help you determine which products emit the least amount of VOC’s. The Source for Product Sustainability Information https://spot.ulprospector.com/en/na/BuiltEnvironment and Pharos’ Building Product Library https://www.pharosproject.net/ are great resources for checking product VOC levels.
- Install VOC monitoring equipment. Here is one supplier you can check out if you’re looking for equipment. https://www.environmental-expert.com/products/keyword-voc-monitoring-21006
How to reduce CO2
- Buy CO2 monitors to check levels in your facility. One Eve Room monitor, https://www.evehome.com/en/eve-room, is very effective. The monitor costs $80 and is about the size of a small Bluetooth speaker.
- If you are experiencing high CO2 levels, be sure to inspect your ventilation and HVAC systems to ensure they are working properly. You want to increase ventilation as much as possible. Bring in as much fresh air as you can.
- Add more plants. During the daytime, plants consume CO2 and produce oxygen. This process reverses at night, but assuming your facility is empty, you should be fine. If, on the other hand, you have staff working at night, plants may not be a good solution.
Overall, if you think you may be having indoor air quality issues, bring in a professional IAQ specialist, who can assist you. Contact Vanguard Resources and we can set you on the right path to improving air quality, and increase productivity.