Harnessing The Power of Your HVAC: Sick Building Syndrome and Indoor Air Quality
Do you have headaches, decreased concentration, dizziness, cough, asthma and other respiratory symptoms? One might assume these symptoms are caused by outdoor triggers and pollutants. However, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that indoor air quality can be 2 to 5 times more polluted that outside. Indoor air quality is directly impacted by a building’s heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system. Facility managers are able to harness the power of their HVAC to combat sick building syndrome and improve indoor air quality, thus improving employee wellness and productivity.
Sick building syndrome (SBS) and other related causes of poor indoor air quality (IAQ) cost business and employees major time and money in absenteeism and decreased productivity. The total costs to the U.S. economy can be as high as $168 billion a year. One study found that over 75 percent of these unnecessary costs are related to ventilation and the building HVAC system. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that “50 percent of all illnesses are either caused or aggravated by poor IAQ.”
What is SBS? Sick building syndrome is a situation when people present with a number of symptoms that have no other identifiable cause except for the fact that they live or work in the same space. The shared space can be as small as a wing or room, and as large as an entire building. Occupants may complain about headache, dizziness, cough, allergies, and other non specific ailments. SBS has been linked to an increase in asthma and personality changes, but are often relieved after leaving the area. Contributing to SBS are chemical vapors, furniture, fumes, electrostatic fields, carpeting and mold, but the overall biggest impact is ventilation within the HVAC system.
HVAC upgrades and regular maintenance can improve IAQ and SBS significantly. In turn, facility managers can use their HVAC systems to improve daily productivity and decrease absenteeism. This may include routine cleaning and replacement of filters, replacing damaged tiles and carpeting, and proper ventilation of chemical and biological contaminants. Building a HVAC system to code is not a guarantee for proper ventilation. Customized HVAC design and engineering can improve ventilation and offer proper air filtering where most needed.
Want to learn more about how to harness the power of your
HVAC system to improve IAQ? Schedule a HVAC consultation with SPC Mechanical