The Air We Breathe
Indoor Air Pollution, also referred to as poor indoor air quality, is the term used for the build-up of harmful pollutants in the home that has a negative effect on health and wellbeing. A grown adult requires more than 10,000 litres of air every day, breathing approximately 20,000 times. We spend up to 80% of our time indoors and indoor air can be up to 50 times more polluted than outdoor air, so achieving good indoor air quality is now more important than ever.
Indoor Air Pollution
There are many pollutants present in the home, generated from simple, everyday activities like cooking with gas, spraying cleaning and beauty products, and even using air fresheners. Without adequate ventilation, these pollutants remain trapped inside the home where, over time, they can have a serious impact on our health. Long-term exposure a damp environment or polluted air is linked to serious health conditions including asthma, respiratory infections, lung disease and heart disease. So what are the main pollutants found in most homes?
What is wellbeing? Depending on who you ask, the definition of wellbeing changes.
Nuaire believes that wellbeing is creating a green, healthy atmosphere where employers think both about the building’s impact on the environment, and its impact on the occupants and their health. The World Green Building Council (WGBC) has presented its report, Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices (2017) as a business case towards green building and wellbeing.
The report lists many key defining factors for creating an atmosphere of wellbeing, including such factors as Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Thermal Comfort and Noise & Acoustics, to name a few. Stale, carbon dioxide-laden air causes tiredness. When you add dim or harsh artificial lighting, which strains the eyes and causes headaches, this environment can impact productivity and even health.
A study was completed in 2017 by Harvard and Syracuse Universities on the correlation between Indoor Air Quality and productivity. Office environments were simulated with varying levels of ventilation and CO2, with results showing that employees who were put in a well-ventilated space performed 61% better in cognitive tasks than those who were exposed to higher levels of CO2. Not only this, but their performance increased by 100% compared to their normal daily activity. This suggests that investment into wellbeing is not only good for the occupants, but also for the company. The UK government has many laws and policies relating to personal health and individual wellbeing, as well as regulations on building emissions; however, due to the subjective nature of wellbeing in construction, many of the factors talked about in the WGBC report act only as guidelines, rather than strict rules. This means that businesses have to make moral choices when it comes to the wellbeing quality of their buildings, rather than being dictated by government regulations.
Investing in high-quality ventilation, buildings with lots of natural light and using an intuitive Building Management System (BMS) all come with a large upfront cost. Because of this, many companies decide the initial investment isn't worth it, as they simply can't quantify the return on investment; however, there multiple reports to say that improving these conditions can improve productivity considerably. Wellbeing is becoming increasingly important in modern day society as companies begin to think inward and consider not only how buildings affect the environment, but also how they affect employees and customers.