If you’re a facility manager, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and confused with the different types of information being shared about managing indoor air quality in buildings – especially these days when fear and uncertainty are making building occupants hesitant to return to the workplace or continue with their lease. A recent survey from global consulting firm Korn Ferry revealed that about 50% of employees are afraid to return to work due to health and safety concerns.  Ensuring an environment that is healthy, safe, and comfortable is critical and facility managers should lead their teams to achieve this goal using data-driven decisions. Good IAQ strategies should be based on facts, and not just popular opinion. Here are some commonly held notions about indoor air quality practices and what facility managers should consider.

Fallacy: Poor IAQ can be addressed by simply identifying the sources of unpleasant odors and detecting visible leaks in the system. 

Fact: While bad odors or visible stains on walls resulting from molds are signs of problems with your indoor air quality, your role as a facility manager is to identify, mitigate, and eliminate all major sources of pollutants. Not only does this resolve the existing problems but it also helps to prevent potential issues from happening. There may be other sources that you are not considering such as high levels of CO2 from poor ventilation, activities that create particles and nitrogen dioxide from vehicles outside, to name a few. To be in control of your air quality, you need to know and understand all the factors that affect it and how they relate to each other. 

Fallacy: Installing an air filtration system for the whole building is enough to keep indoor air clean.

Fact: HVAC systems can indeed be a part of your fight to solve poor indoor air quality, but it should not be your only weapon. They are generally designed to reduce dust and other types of particle pollution. However, air quality is a cocktail of things in the air. You would need to also consider other pollutants such as harmful VOCs from paint on the wall or your furniture, ozone from your printers, projectors/photocopiers, mold due to suboptimal humidity, stale air from lack of ventilation and various other pollutant gases in the air. Air filters do not necessarily optimize your air quality and should be adopted as only one part of an overall IAQ strategy. Identifying and removing the sources, continuously monitoring and managing your IAQ, providing adequate and proper ventilation, and filtering the air should all be integrated into your comprehensive IAQ approach for a healthy building.

Fallacy: Ensuring health and wellbeing by providing good indoor air quality is a long, expensive, and time-consuming process.

Fact: A commitment to optimizing the environment for your building occupants means you need to make choices and decisions that are based on the right information. With today’s technological advances, it is easy to map out a strategy that essentially starts with cost-effective solutions such as comprehensive indoor air quality sensors that can provide you with relevant data on air quality factors. Getting useful insights on how indoor air quality relates to your building occupants’ routines can help you correct problem areas and implement improvements when and where they are needed. With an indoor air quality monitoring platform that can seamlessly integrate with your building systems, alert you when there is an issue, and activate your HVAC system you can also save on energy and maintenance costs.  

While it may seem complex and challenging to tackle your building’s indoor air quality challenges, it is always prudent to take the first step of understanding what you are dealing with. As an old adage goes, “knowing is half the battle.”