Taking a 'smart building' approach to internal air quality
When it comes to safeguarding building occupants and providing healthy, productive workplaces for staff, air quality is one of the key areas that must be focused on.
ETS can assist you with implementing a ‘Smart Buildings’ approach to this area. Harnessing a solution of multi-parameter sensors across indoor spaces, integration with BMS and controls systems, and our internal data and analytics capabilities, businesses will be able to provide optimal ventilation rates and internal air quality conditions whilst minimising any additional consumption, carbon and cost impacts.
Additionally, it will enable predictive modelling of scenarios for building occupancy densities across internal spaces, facilitating space planning and business recovery strategies in the light of the current pandemic.
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It is widely recognised that the provision of appropriate indoor air quality within working environments can have significant and substantial positive impacts; not only to occupants themselves, but also to the business operating from that space.
Indeed, for many years, sustainability leaders across the built environment have strongly advocated the benefits that optimal internal air quality parameters (beyond those simply required under prevailing Building Regulations), achieved through appropriate monitoring and control, can bring to businesses – including improved productivity, reduced sick days, and improved staff morale.
Furthermore, this recognition has been formally codified in pre-eminent global built environment sustainability assessment methodologies such as BREEAM, LEED and the WELL Standard.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated duty of employers and building managers to provide safe working environments for staff as they return to the workplace, has lent further impetus to this – so that now, the provision of appropriate levels of indoor air quality within the workplace is also a formal Health & Safety factor and a ‘building usability’ consideration.
As current guidance from industry bodies (CIBSE, REHVA, ASHRAE etc.) rapidly seeks to adapt and advise property managers on measures that should be taken to safeguard occupant safety and wellbeing in commercial spaces, much of this focusses on the provision of enhanced air supply rates and the avoidance of areas of poor ventilation or stagnant air – which, as would be expected, is largely based around increasing the run times of AHUs and FCUs within buildings; with some guidance advocating running HVAC equipment effectively 24/7.
Clearly, the health of occupants is paramount, but without a ‘Smart Buildings’ approach being taken, the implications for increased energy consumption, carbon emissions and operational cost, beyond those that would be expected under more ‘normal’ circumstances, are considerable.
The ETS Solution
ETS has the expertise to assist businesses with these issues, adopting a ‘Smart Buildings’ approach. As part of our solution, the following parameters are tracked in real time and used to control integrated building systems via the BMS (with additional remote graphics and visualisation interfaces), including HVAC equipment, to optimise internal conditions:
• Temperature: adverse ambient temperature can impact performance health and attendance.
• Humidity: inappropriate humidity levels can negatively impact occupant wellbeing, and overburden HVAC systems.
• CO2: adverse CO2 levels impair occupant focus and productivity.
• VOCs: chemicals found in fixtures and fittings which volatilise into air volumes can cause respiratory irritation.
• PM2.5: Particulate matter suspended in air volumes can trigger issues such as asthma and allergies.
• Ambient Light: poor lux levels can cause eye strain, and negatively impact on productivity and focus.
• Ambient Noise: excessive levels of ambient noise can hinder occupants’ ability to concentrate, especially in open-plan spaces.
Working with some of the UK’s largest organisations and property companies, we have been involved in some of the country’s most high-profile commercial estates.
In this demanding environment investors, occupiers and managers must continue to maximise their return on investment and manage the costs involved in operating their property assets, whilst providing space that promotes the health & wellbeing of occupants and optimises sustainability performance.
Our consultants have extensive multi-sectoral experience in resolving complex engineering issues which improve operational performance.
With an international team of consulting engineers, we can address all aspects of building services, including Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Refrigeration, Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) Engineering, Lighting, BMS and Controls.