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Better IAQ Data Means Happy, Healthy Occupants


It's probably a safe assumption that no CEO or school superintendent has ever wandered into a facility manager's office to ask whether their building is in compliance with the ventilation requirements in ASHRAE Standard 62.1. More likely, any conversation about indoor air quality would entail the organization's leader demanding to know why the third floor smells funny or wondering why a grade school is on pace to shatter its 10-year high for sick days.

When there are questions like these, what sort of data can you provide to answer them? The effects of poor IAQ may be obvious, but the causes often are not. So how do you assess and measure IAQ from a data standpoint?

Simply put, measuring, monitoring and benchmarking IAQ is hardly a straightforward proposition — at least compared with other common facility metrics, like energy use. Measuring indoor air quality means amalgamating several different metrics to give a holistic IAQ picture.

"There is not just one measurement that can assess the dynamic relationship between the presence of air contaminants and the ventilation to effectively dilute and remove them," says David Bearg, president of Life Energy Associates. "Instead, assessing the healthfulness of an indoor environment is more a matter of measuring key parameters to get a more complete IAQ picture."Effective ventilation rates, contaminant levels, absolute humidity, and even occupant satisfaction are some of those parameters, and all play a role in the overarching goal of measuring indoor air quality. But as daunting as measuring IAQ may seem, it's well worth the effort, say experts.

A worst case? Maybe. But there's plenty of possible fallout that can occur when HVAC projects in existing facilities are not properly executed. To understand the common issues that cause these projects to jump off track, it's important to identify the underlying causes and understand ways to mitigate or avoid them altogether.

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