07/26/2005

Keep an Eye on Indoor Air

Deriving the most benefit from IAQ monitoring

 

Gathering Indoor Environmental Data Offers Advantages
Technology breakthroughs are making facility monitoring systems more affordable for a wider range of building types. The list of benefits continues to expand as access to indoor environmental data and the knowledge it imparts is applied to building performance.

Benefits related to IAQ include: improved indoor air quality, a complaint response mechanism, meeting LEED™ certification requirements, construction and renovation monitoring, making tenant spaces more marketable, and verifying effectiveness of maintenance programs.

Benefits related to building performance include: establishing a performance baseline, HVAC system optimization, validating green building performance, identifying energy-saving opportunities, assessing ventilation effectiveness, providing a basis for demand-controlled ventilation, and real-time commissioning.

Environmental monitoring systems have typically been justified only for use in critical room environments, such as clean rooms, where the value of the monitoring system is offset by the high costs of product contamination. Although most facilities managers are responsible for less-critical spaces, they still face the challenge of providing healthy and productive indoor environments. Their ability to do so can have a profound financial effect on the bottom line: In the United States, estimated potential productivity gains from improvements in indoor environments range from $20 to $50 billion (1996 dollars), according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

To-date, it has been both prohibitively expensive and impractical to monitor indoor air on a periodic or continuous basis for typical commercial buildings. The cost of populating an entire facility with high-quality, very accurate sensors is only part of the challenge. Sensors, including those which monitor very common air quality parameters (i.e. carbon dioxide [CO2]), have traditionally been a maintenance burden due to the sensor’s need for repeated calibration and its tendency to drift over time. The result is that indoor environmental quality measurements or tests are usually conducted on a reactive basis and, even then, only when the situation is extreme enough to warrant the expense. One-time environmental testing can easily cost thousands of dollars and often requires a week or more to receive results.

Recent technological advances have removed many financial and maintenance obstacles, making permanent monitoring systems a consideration for a broader range of facilities managers. Schools, healthcare facilities, and general office buildings can benefit from measuring a host of environmental conditions and use that information to respond to occupant complaints, optimize facility performance, and keep energy costs in check. In addition, feedback from the indoor environment can be used to establish baselines for building performance and document improvements to indoor air quality.

Parameters useful for evaluating indoor environmental quality and energy efficiency may be classifed into three categories:

  • Comfort and ventilation.
  • Air cleanliness.
  • Building pollutants.

Within these categories, facility-wide monitoring systems can provide independent measurement of a range of parameters, including temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), and airborne particulates. While useful for reducing investigative time and expense in responding to occupant complaints, the data and analysis from continuous monitoring can also be used proactively to optimize building performance. For example, particle counts can be used to indicate the effectiveness of the ventilation system.

Buildings are dynamic environments - and while the original basis for design may have been sound, after they are operational, the reality is that mechanical system controls drift, building use changes, and occupancy rates fluctuate. These changes can have a significant impact on the ability of the HVAC system (as designed) to maintain a balance between occupant comfort, health, productivity, and operating costs.

A facility monitoring system can be a valuable tool for improving indoor air quality, identifying energy savings opportunities, and validating facility performance. Automating the process of documenting and analyzing key parameters and providing facilities managers access to the results can better equip them to meet the challenge of maintaining healthy, productive environments.

Patricia Mormann is marketing communications manager at Newton, MA-based Aircuity Inc. (www.aircuity.com).

 

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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


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Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

Yaskawa drives offer quality performance for air handlers and cooling towers on the roof to secondary chilled water pumps in the basement

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Need portable cooling?

Rent or buy spot coolers from full-service locations nationwide. On call “24/7”. Primary, supplemental or emergency cooling. Atlas Sales & Rentals, Inc., or call (800) 972-6600.

Click here for more info


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

Yaskawa drives offer quality performance for air handlers and cooling towers on the roof to secondary chilled water pumps in the basement

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.


 
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