Cost Savings & Benefits:
most cost-effective option for improving indoor air quality is source control.
Any new combustion sources, materials, furnishings, or cleaning products in the
home or in a building are potential sources of indoor air pollution. Careful
analysis of products prior to purchase can help. The operating myth is that
improving home and/or building ventilation systems can actually increase energy
costs. Proper sizing and cleaning of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
(HVAC) systems can actually save money on energy costs and improve indoor air
quality. Even simple filter cleaning and/or replacement helps HVAC systems
operate more efficiently and improves indoor air quality.
The benefits of
protecting indoor air quality are significant. Improved indoor air quality can
have positive effects on human health, productivity, and comfort. Canadian
researchers have measured the relationships between employee productivity and
indoor air quality and found that reduced indoor pollutant levels resulted in
reductions in absenteeism.
Improving indoor air quality in an apartment building can be more challenging if
the building owner or manager is the only person who can address sources of
indoor air pollution. The first step is to alert management, in written form, of
any potential issues with indoor air quality and encourage building management
to follow EPA's IAQ Building Education and Assessment Model (I-BEAM). It is
sometimes possible to help building owners and their managers see the financial
benefits of improving indoor air quality in the form of increased tenant
retention and lease rates, reduced liabilities, and improved resale value.
As people spend
a significant portion of their day in office buildings, IAQ is an issue in these
environments as well. Office buildings can have significant air quality issues.
If you or others in your office are experiencing problems with health and/or
comfort and you suspect poor indoor air quality is the cause, EPA recommends
that you talk to your supervisor, your personal physician, and/or the state or
local health department.
The good news
is that sometimes solving indoor air quality problems is possible and not always
unreasonably expensive. With proper analysis of HVAC systems and other sources
of indoor pollutants, building managers can sometimes turn "sick" buildings into
relatively healthier environments.
In cooler climates, outdoor temperatures can make it more challenging to improve
ventilation by simply opening a few windows in your home or in commercial
buildings. Mechanical ventilation systems, proper cleaning, source control, and
air cleaners may be good options.
humid climates, high temperatures and humidity levels can increase the
concentration of some pollutants. There are some additional climate-related
challenges with respect to windows and mechanical systems.
(Getting It Done):
A range of professionals address indoor air quality issues. Selected HVAC
contractors are capable of helping homeowners and building owners make decisions
that can result in improved indoor air quality. Selected interior designers are
now more cognizant of the types of design decisions that contribute to indoor
air pollution or to healthier homes and buildings. As with any design,
construction, and/or maintenance decision, it is a good idea to get two or three
bids from different contractors. Even though this may be a bit more time-consuming, the
end result is usually a more cost-effective and informed decision. There are no
guarantees with indoor air quality, but informed decision-making can result in
substantial improvements to health and productivity.