This Building’s IAQ Retrofit Reassures Tenants

Feb. 11, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened people’s awareness of indoor air quality. This retrofit helps reassure tenants that the air in their spaces is clean.

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened people’s awareness of indoor air quality—not just the risk of virus transmission, but particulate matter, VOCs and other factors that impact air quality as well. People are eager to know what they’re breathing. 

That’s why global commercial real estate company JLL opted to pilot IAQ monitoring devices in 25 Chicago-area buildings. The retrofit included a monitoring system that integrates with each building’s BMS to measure relative humidity, temperature, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, VOCs, light and air pressure. 

“Those variables contribute to demonstrating that you have good IAQ within the air distribution systems of your building and the data from the zone sensors support it,” said Bill Schuch, JLL’s national engineering manager for property management.

[Related: How a Cultural Shift in Hotel Air Quality Will Keep People Safe]

Inside JLL’s IAQ Retrofit 

Tenants across the nation are nervous about reoccupying space, Schuch explained. Monitoring air quality factors helps show people that the air in their space is clean. 

“IAQ monitoring is rapidly becoming a must-have,” Schuch said. “If you are not doing this already, you need to in order to stay competitive. Monitoring IAQ will be essential for people coming back into our buildings with confidence and is the most cost-effective way to identify where improvements need to be made.” 

JLL opted for sensors by Airthings for a few reasons: 

  • The sensors aren’t hardwired, so the company didn’t have to incur the cost of running new wiring. The Airthings devices are battery-operated, and an optional USB-C cable can further extend battery life. 
  • The devices are RESET certified. RESET is a sensor-based and performance-driven data standard and certification program. RESET Air Accredited Monitors are IAQ monitoring devices that continuously monitor, report and transfer air quality data to accredited data providers for projects that are pursuing accreditation according to the RESET Air Standard. 
  • IAQ dashboards provide verification of the quality of the air and allow building operators to address troublesome trends before they get out of hand.  

[Related: Interior Strategies for Better IAQ]

3 Ways to Get Maximum Results from IAQ Monitoring 

There are so many monitoring technologies on the market that it’s hard to know where to start. Try Schuch’s strategies for making sure your devices deliver what you need. 

1. Pay attention to discreet installation costs. “If you need to pull wires or cables, you can get wrapped up in days or weeks of installation at upwards of five times the cost,” Schuch said. “In a side-by-side comparison, we saved over $135,000 on a 73-device installation using Airthings.” 

2. Keep a close eye on new legislation, regulations and guidelines. The requirements are rapidly changing when it comes to IAQ monitoring, Schuch said. “Future-proof your investment by aligning to certifications like WELL and RESET, even if you aren’t quite ready to make the full investment in a building certification,” he recommended. 

3. Use the data to establish a baseline, then look for issues. Before you invest in technologies to mitigate IAQ problems, it’s important to understand the current state of your building’s air quality. Install IAQ monitoring first, then look at what the data shows before you make other investments. “Investing in IAQ monitoring is an inexpensive way to understand if or where there are issues and will ultimately lead to substantial cost savings on other mitigating technology purchases,” Schuch said. 

Data from IAQ monitoring can’t completely put tenants at ease, but it can help reassure them that the air streams within the building provides a clean, healthy work environment. That’s sure to leave tenants breathing easy. 

Read next: What to Know About Buildings and IAQ

About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

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