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During the Pandemic, Be Proactive About Indoor Air Quality


By Greg Zimmerman IAQ

Has an occupant asked you recently about the MERV rating on your air filters? How about whether your building is complying with ASHRAE-recommended air changes per hour? Maybe even what measurement do you use to monitor indoor air quality?

There’s no question the pandemic has made for more knowledgeable occupants about facility-related factors that directly affect their health and safety. And as the pandemic wears on, it behooves FMs to be proactive about showing the strategies they’re employing to give occupants more peace of mind.

How you do this can vary depending on the sophistication of your current systems. From a lobby dashboard showing all the building’s “vitals” to a widget on employees’ computers when they log in to the company network, there are a variety of ways to keep occupants apprised of how you’re keeping them safe.

And it’s a good idea to be proactive now, because occupants are only getting smarter. A recent article in the New York Times gives readers “6 questions to ask about Covid and air quality at work.” The first question is about what changes you’ve made to your ventilation system, and urges readers to get into the weeds as deeply as “have you disable demand-controlled ventilation?” That is a level of expertise very few occupants might’ve had before the pandemic.

The story also instructs occupants to ask about operable windows, which any good FM knows is a bit of a bugaboo. How do you ensure that occupants have the freedom to open windows, but that you’re not cooling space at the same time windows are open?

However it is you’re working to show occupants the measures you’re taken, there’s no substitute for simply talking to them, as well. Showing them that you care and that you’re making true effort to keep them safe goes a long way to keeping them happy, as well. 

Greg Zimmerman is deputy editor, Facility Market.

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