Sustainable-IAQ

How to achieve sustainable Indoor Air Quality?

The FM industry is facing the challenge of ensuring better IAQ levels for building occupants while optimizing energy costs and aim to achieve net-zero carbon emission for ensuring environment sustainability (ESG agenda).  

To address this challenge and to help organizations in achieving the goal of “sustainable IAQ”, enVerid Systems Inc released a white paper suggesting a “Clean First” approach – a 4 step roadmap for achieving sustainable IAQ for buildings. 

BACKGROUND

The white paper has been published in August 2022 by “enVerid Systems Inc” – solutions provider for sustainable IAQ. To download a pdf copy of the white paper, please visit: https://enverid.com/resources/learning/how-to-achieve-sustainable-indoor-air-quality-a-roadmap-to-simultaneously-improving-indoor-air-quality-meeting-building-decarbonization-and-climate-resiliency-goals/

ABSTRACT

The FM industry is facing the challenge of ensuring better IAQ levels for building occupants while optimizing energy costs and aim to achieve net-zero carbon emission for ensuring environment sustainability (ESG agenda).  

To address this challenge and to achieve the goal of “sustainable IAQ”, the white paper has suggested a “Clean First” approach (illustration below) – a 4 step roadmap for achieving sustainable IAQ for buildings. 

Credits: enVerid white paper on “How to achieve sustainable indoor air quality”

The above framework includes the following steps/elements that building managers (organizations) can follow to attain the goal of sustainable IAQ:

  1. Defining IAQ goals – organizations should define their IAQ goals based on IAQ performance standards like LEED, ASHRAE, RESET, UL etc.   
  2. Clean IAQ – selecting air cleaning technologies for cleansing recirculated air. For example – using air filters/purifiers etc. 
  3. Optimizing building ventilation – determining how much outside air is needed to supplement the cleaned indoor air (in step 2) to comply with and achieve the IAQ goals (in step 1).
  4. Monitor and control IAQ – monitoring IAQ for assurance and use controls (automatic or semi-manual) to adjust air cleaning (adjust filtration levels) and ventilation levels (adjusting supply of outside air). 

WHY DO WE NEED A FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE IAQ

​​The framework has been designed to provide a pathway for building managers to improve IAQ for health and wellness of building occupants while ensuring energy optimization and decarbonizing buildings. 

As suggested in enVerid white paper, for new upcoming buildings, organizations should start with defining IAQ goals (step 1) for attaining sustainable IAQ mission however, for existing buildings, we should start with monitoring IAQ (step 4) to baseline existing IAQ performance and then plan their IAQ goals (step 1) and proceed with other steps.  

University of Miami Case Study

The white paper also includes the extracts from a case study made by University of Miami on achieving sustainable IAQ goals at UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center. 

In UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center, higher concentrations of CO2 and VOCs were observed due to higher occupancy and emissions from fitness mats inside the gyms, respectively. University of Miami suggested using more outside air ventilation to improve IAQ, but more outside air made it difficult for existing HVAC systems to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature and humidity levels. Also, this added to more PM levels coming into the building and higher utility costs. 

University of Miami then decided to use a Clean First approach to achieve Sustainable IAQ. The University of Miami started by supplementing existing particulate filters with a sorbent-based air cleaning system for removing gaseous contaminants (Step 2) and then recalculating the required outside air volumes accounting for the efficiency of the air cleaning systems (Step 3). The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) performed independent measurement and verification of energy savings and IAQ (Step 4).

As a result of this, the University of Miami was able to replace 75% of outside air with cleaned indoor air in compliance with the IAQ procedure (IAQP) within ASHRAE standard 62.1. This resulted in a 36% reduction in total HVAC energy consumption and a 41% reduction of HVAC peak demand while providing the desired IAQ improvement. 

Refer below chart for energy consumption chart for uHealth Fitness Center:

Credits: enVerid white paper on “How to achieve sustainable indoor air quality”

Refer chart below for impact of IAQ pollutants in uHealth Fitness Center:

Credits: enVerid white paper on “How to achieve sustainable indoor air quality”

The 4 steps of the clean first approach are as under:

STEP 1: DEFINE IAQ GOALS

The benefits of defining and setting IAQ goals would benefit organizations to ensure more satisfied occupants as most of these standards mandate informing occupants on the IAQ standards of the building/workplace. 

As per a study by Honeywell, 72% of office workers worldwide worry about air quality in their building/offices. The study also found that 9 out of 10 respondents want to be kept informed on their building’s IAQ, yet only 1.5 out 10 (15%) were receiving actual updates.

The white paper suggests 5 IAQ standards that organizations can consider: 

ASHRAE, LEED, WELL, RESET, and UL.  

STEP 2: DEFINE IAQ GOALS

The white paper recommends using sorbent filters that address the full range of gaseous contaminants as defined by ASHRAE 62.1, with third-party verified efficiencies based on ASHRAE standard 145.2 or other nationally recognized test methods. 

STEP 3:  OPTIMIZE VENTILATION

In the 3rd step of the framework, it is recommended that building managers should determine how much outside air is needed to supplement the cleaned indoor air to comply with the IAQ targets and goals set by the organization in step 1. 

The white paper recommends to combine layered air cleaning technologies with optimized ventilation rates using ASHRAE’s IAQ procedure to achieve IAQ targets in a cost-effective manner.

STEP 4: Validate, Monitor and Control IAQ

The final step in the framework is to validate the IAQ design, continuously monitor IAQ for assurance, and use controls to adjust air cleaning and ventilation for maximum efficiency and climate resilience. 

It is recommended to have periodic and continuous monitoring of IAQ as a best practice. 

Below is a chart of the recommendations made in the white paper for monitoring and controlling IAQ in workplaces:

Credits: enVerid white paper on “How to achieve sustainable indoor air quality”

Field Validation: 

Using hand-held devices to do periodic testing of certain IAQ parameters (IAQ audit vendors that can do lab-testing of air samples). Many HVAC and BMS vendors also offer IAQ audit services.

Continuous IAQ monitoring: 

Using IAQ sensors that are mounted either in open space or inside ducts (recommended by RESET). 

Once air cleaning, ventilation systems have been deployed, it is important to ensure that they are working properly to meet the IAQ goals of the organization (step 1). This can be done by adopting an IAQ system that measures IAQ and reports these parameters to building occupants, building managers via dashboard, mobile apps, and BMS system. 

The white paper suggests the following approach for shortlisting IAQ sensor vendor:

Credits: enVerid white paper on “How to achieve sustainable indoor air quality”

The white paper recommends using IAQ sensors that are validated by third-party like RESET. 

Control optimization: 

Integrating IAQ data with BMS systems to automate or semi-automate control measures for adjusting ventilation and filtration levels can help organizations achieve control over their HVAC and IAQ system. The levels of control measure offered would be dependent on the current BMS system and the level of integration offered by the IAQ system. 

The white paper recommends integrating IAQ sensor data with BMS and automating remedial actions by adjusting the optimization of filtration, ventilation etc. 

Using outside weather data can be beneficial to look for conditions in outside air that can impact IAQ negatively. For example – wildfires in the area or crop burning, ozone alert days, high pollution levels during winters in North-India etc. 

A versatile IAQ system should be capable of detecting these conditions and making appropriate adjustments in the ventilation levels (control measures with BMS integration). 

Hygieneo – first-of-its-kind SaaS for indoor air quality, surface and water hygiene

Hygieneo is a unique, versatile and comprehensive SaaS developed by Caleedo for measuring, monitoring and reporting workplace hygiene through IoT and digital applications for commercial buildings and workplaces. 

Hygieneo platform offerings and benefits

Hygieneo is empowering organizations to digitally provide a consistent hygienic environment at workplaces which improves the health & wellness of the occupants and therefore better productivity. 

Further, live casting of the indoor hygiene levels can be broadcasted in common areas inside the workplace or buildings to re-enforce the organizational commitment on health and hygiene and therefore, enhance trust and morale of employees at the workplace. 

Leading customers from the ITES, e-commerce, global conglomerates, and facility management companies are now using this application to enhance and improve workplace hygiene levels in a predictable and a decisive manner than ever before.    

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