2 tips on occupants
1. Measuring Facility Occupant Perceptions of IAQ
In an increasingly data-driven facility management culture, facility managers want to be sure not only that they're providing the best indoor air quality, but also that they have the data to prove it.
But you could have a stack of documents proving compliance with good indoor air quality practices and if the occupants of the facility are nevertheless unsatisfied with the indoor air quality, you could still have an indoor air quality problem.
One strategy is to benchmark what is normal for the facility occupants, what is good. Simply ask occupants for their opinion of the indoor air quality. Do an occupant satisfaction survey, the results of which can provide another indoor air quality metric — one you can easily benchmark against as time goes on.
Pay attention to occupants, encourage them to let you know about issues and show them you're not writing them off as the crank complainer or some kind of hypochondriac.
Feedback and complaints from occupants are really valuable sources of information, but also look at absenteeism rates and health care costs. Trends in those metrics may provide insight into how good the building's indoor air quality is.
Admittedly, not many facility managers pursue these kinds of measurements when thinking about indoor air quality. But after all, it's the occupants who are affected, and complain or worse, about indoor air quality. It only makes sense to take their temperature as well.
2. Create an IAQ Team
Ensuring good indoor air quality is not a job to undertake alone. It's important to assemble an IAQ team.
The core of this team should include the building owner or representative, a building or facilities manager, systems operator, occupant representative, energy manager and HVAC service contractor. For major construction or renovation projects, the team should also include the architect, engineer and general contractor.
The team should meet periodically to review the facility's procurement policy, compliance plan, proactive IAQ strategies, complaints, remediation actions, monitoring results and any construction projects.
Occupants also play a significant role in a building's IAQ, so make sure the IAQ team informs them of their responsibilities.
Create a process whereby occupants notify building management if they are bringing in any machinery that exhausts fumes, such as photocopiers, or other machinery that affects IAQ, such as a personal humidifier.
Other IAQ culprits that seem innocuous but can impact the indoor environment include food and plants. Since occupants aren't likely to fess up to everything they bring in the doors, keeping an eye open for potential occupant-induced IAQ problem spots while walking the floors is a good idea.
Having an occupant representative as part of the IAQ team will help facilitate any conversations necessary to prevent or remediate problems, such as convincing someone to keep their small forest of potted plants at home.
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