Air Quality

Indoor vs outdoor air: Key factors for your business

Abhinav Gupta

Maintaining good air quality in commercial settings is essential for the health and productivity of employees and the satisfaction of customers. In this article, Abhinav Gupta, CEO of ActiveBuildings, highlights that air quality management in commercial settings requires an integrated approach that includes indoor and outdoor factors.

Air quality should be given attention in commercial settings. But those who have cracked the code know the significance of this invisible element for a prospering business. Be it an office, a warehouse, a retail store, a manufacturing facility or a kitchen, good air quality influences employee contribution, customer satisfaction and operational efficiency in every sector. But can we achieve these goals by just managing the indoor air?

Air management in commercial settings

Air quality plays an important role commercially, as it is a health concern. It also affects the productivity of employees and business expenses. Poor air quality can lead to short-term health issues and even chronic diseases. It translates into increased absenteeism, lower productivity, and higher healthcare costs for businesses. Additionally, in customer-facing industries like retail and hospitality, the perception of air quality can influence customer satisfaction and repeat business.

Poor air management also means higher electricity bills. It includes temperature and humidity management. Poor cooling efficiency and improper refrigeration can also lead to product damage, customer complaints and even legal repercussions.

Decades ago, water-borne diseases caused millions of deaths and diseases, making water testing and filtration a mandate in our personal and professional lives. We must engage dedicated air monitoring and filtration technologies before facing a similar air-borne setback.

Indoor vs outdoor air

Many people still believe that air pollution is an outdoor phenomenon. Outside air is bound to affect indoor air without proper air filtration systems. If outdoor air is poor, indoor air will be 2-5 times worse, and unfortunately, almost every city in India suffers from poor AQI and air pollution.

Immediate health effects like poor focus, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue affect the productivity of the occupants. Long-term health effects of breathing poor-quality air are more severe, such as respiratory diseases, exacerbated asthma, heart disease and cancer. Pollutants like dust particles and mould even cause damage to electronics and building health, increasing the cost to businesses.

Without outside air, there is no fresh oxygen and no outlet for carbon dioxide build-up from human metabolism inside buildings. HVAC systems guise the pollutants by making the air temperature pleasant, but the contaminants remain in our breathable air. Thus, both indoor and outdoor air quality hold equal significance.

Managing outdoor air quality

Ambient air pollution is a global problem. Every year, 7 million premature deaths occur due to air pollution. In 2018, air pollution cost the global economy 2.9 trillion dollars. In the same year, unhealthy air quality caused 1.8 billion days of work absences worldwide.

Industrial emissions, traffic-related air pollution, construction activities and natural occurrences like wildfires and dust storms are the most common causes of ambient air pollution. While some can be resolved by government intervention over time, some cannot. There are some steps we can take to take control of the air around our buildings at individual capacity. Incorporating green spaces and plants around commercial buildings can help improve the air quality of the immediate environment and keep the temperatures cool. Further, switching to clean energy sources and reducing reliance on fossil fuels can also help reduce emissions and improve local air quality. Businesses can collaborate with authorities and communities to advocate for green policies. It is for the environment and allows companies to build a sustainable brand name.

Controlling indoor air quality

The biggest culprit for poor indoor air is the outdoor environment. The weather, temperature, and air quality outside affect the air inside our buildings. We cannot seal our indoor environment because ventilation is the only source of fresh oxygen in a building where hundreds of people need to breathe.

Another factor that affects indoor air is building materials and furnishings, including paints, carpets, and office furniture. Cleaning products also tend to emit VOCs into the air. Cooking or other combustion activities add toxic gases and particulates to the space. Choosing low-VOC products and introducing air purifiers can help solve this problem.

Poor maintenance can cause HVAC systems to become breeding grounds for mould, bacteria, and other contaminants. In addition to regular inspections of HVAC and AHUs, filters must be implemented on existing air systems to ensure the circulation of purified air throughout the building.

Most businesses are now switching to Green Building practices to be more environmentally conscious. Green building certifications solve many indoor environment problems with reduced emissions, IAQ monitoring, increased ventilation, and non-toxic materials.

Integrating indoor and outdoor air management

Effective air quality management in commercial settings requires an integrated approach that considers indoor and outdoor factors. Indoor and outdoor air quality monitoring and testing help identify pollutants, sources, and the best-suited resolution practice through insights. They also verify whether the air cleaning technologies installed are effective.

Holistic building designs that consider indoor and outdoor environments, such as incorporating natural ventilation, green roofs, and sustainable building materials, can provide better results.

Another practice is employee education. Indoor or outdoor air quality affects all bodies. Better awareness about pollutants and their effects can foster a healthier and more conscious work environment. This also prepares occupants for emergencies such as wildfires or industrial accidents.

Efficient air quality for efficient businesses

Maintaining good air quality in commercial settings is essential for the health and productivity of employees and the satisfaction of customers. By understanding the factors that affect indoor and outdoor air quality and implementing effective strategies for improvement, businesses can create safer, healthier, and more pleasant environments. Investing in air quality is not only a matter of compliance and corporate responsibility but also a strategic move towards sustainable business practices and enhanced operational efficiency.

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