One area in which you can directly affect your facilities' sustainability relates to cleaning products and practices. In federal buildings, 50 incidents of blindness, second-degree burns, and severe respiratory diseases occur every year due to mishandling chemicals. Do you have a risk-management plan that anticipates and tries to prevent such situations?
For example, harsh stain removers are effective because they contain more and stronger chemicals combined in concentrated proportions. They might remove the stain, but the substance that removed the stain might contribute to occupant cancer rates.
If mold is an issue, avoid it by providing proper heating and sufficient airflow, as well as sealing leaks, rather than using harsh remediating procedures after the fact.
Sustainable buildings place a great deal of emphasis on recycling, as well as limiting the use of energy and water, but managers and building owners tend to overlook IAQ.
If chemicals start to mutate our genes, future generations will have no resistance to disease. The continued dumping of chemicals into our facilities will pollute the soil, seas and rivers beyond repair. Isn't it time you got serious about IAQ?
Rasika Savkar, CEM, LEED AP BD+C is a technical consultant at Building Insights, an LLC of Green Building Services Inc., in Portland, Ore. She specializes in energy simulation and analyses and shading analyses, ecological footprints, energy audits, thermal-comfort testing, measurement and verification plans, and LEED documentation.
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