How are you prioritising air quality in your office design?

How are you prioritising air quality in your office design?

Air quality is crucial to our health, yet in recent years, comparative risk studies performed by the US EPA have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health. In Australia, poor indoor air quality can result in significant adverse impacts on our health and environment and these impacts carry a significant cost burden to the economy. The CSIRO estimates that the cost of poor indoor air quality in Australia may be as high as $12 billion per year.

Given how much time we all spend in offices, it pays to think about improvements that can be made to internal air quality through effective office design. If employees breathe in contaminated air, they potentially increase their risk for health problems such as asthma, allergies and other upper respiratory illnesses. Here’s how you can improve your air quality during your next office fitout or office refurbishment project.

Understanding the specific air quality health in your office is determined on a case by case basis, so it’s best to speak with a fitout consultant to learn where your space sits on the spectrum. To get you started on this journey, here are a few considerations you might want to keep in mind:

Measuring air quality

It is impossible to eliminate all sources of air contamination, and it is difficult to measure all potential contaminants. The WELL Building Standard recommends carbon dioxide measurement as a guide towards general pollutant levels. If it is above recommended levels, there is a good chance that there are general air quality issues within your office design.

Throw open those windows

If the outdoor air around your building is good quality, the simple act of opening windows can freshen up the indoor air and reduce carbon dioxide levels and volatile organic compounds.

Add a printing room to your office design

Printers and photocopiers can contribute to the production of ozone, and despite paper-reducing schemes, offices often rely heavily on these workhorses. To minimise the impact, next time you undertake a new office fit-out, consider an office design that has a separate printing room with a self-closing door. Use an exhaust hood so that air is expelled rather than re-circulated, and look for low emission printers and copiers when it’s time for replacement machines.

Buy low emission office furniture

Next time you undertake an office fit-out or office refurbishment, or even if you are just replacing or buying a few new furniture items, look for products that minimise volatile organic compound content limits, formaldehyde emission levels and the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Clean, clean, clean…

If a work area could become unsanitary, it is important to adopt a cleaning protocol that disinfects these areas effectively. Talk to your cleaning service provider about protocols for different office areas. Remember that cleaning products can generate their own air quality problems, so good ventilation is essential. The ideal office design will have a locked storage area for any chemicals.

A new office fit-out or office refurbishment is a great start to improving air quality. Breathe life into your new office design and get in touch with one of our fitout specialists today.

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