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How Covid Shifted the Focus on IAQ

The pandemic illustrated the importance of focusing on indoor air quality both to proactively improve health, but also to prevent sick building syndrome.   October 28, 2022

By Greg Zimmerman, senior contributing editor

It took a global pandemic, but the spotlight in now shining starkly on indoor air quality in facilities. This is probably a bit bittersweet for many facility managers, as strategies like air filtration, ventilation rates, and overall indoor air quality have been things they’ve worked hard to get occupants and management alike to care about for years. But now they care. 

The reason we know they care is that facility managers are reporting getting questions frequently on what the MERV rating is on their filters, or the number of air changes per hour the ventilation system is providing. That’s to say, building occupants and organizational leadership are more well-versed than ever in indoor air quality issues. 

Related Content: 5 Core Elements of Good Indoor Air Hygiene

A recent story in Vox furthers this point. The story, with the dramatic headline “Our buildings are making us sick,” details how sick building syndrome, thought to be a thing of the past, is still very much a concern in facilities. But the real meat of the story – and there’s a LOT here, the piece is more than 4,000 words – is about strategies to improve indoor air quality in facilities. The writer, Keren Landman, is an epidemiologist and physician, and has a wealth of expertise in this area.  

The angle for the piece is that improving indoor air quality is both a proactive measure to improve the health of occupants, and also a preventive measure against spreading airborne pathogens. “Not only could doing so help mitigate the next pandemic, but it could also lead to other large-scale improvements in health and productivity,” Landman writes. 

It’s not often a mainstream media piece goes this in-depth on such a crucial facility issue. It’s a terrific piece, and I’d highly recommend carving out the time to give it a read.  

Greg Zimmerman is senior contributing editor for and Building Operating Management magazine. 


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