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4 Ways Facilities Managers Can Improve Indoor Environmental Quality

Posted on May 19, 2016, by Michael Eckert

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) covers all of the conditions inside a building – air quality, lighting, acoustics, for example – and how they affect the building’s inhabitants or users.

In a work environment, good indoor environmental quality can enhance employees’ experience at work, reduce stress and improve health and wellness. So today I’m looking at 4 things all good facilities managers can do to improve IEQ in their organization.

Feature photo - Axis - Chicago, Illinois, USA. Image credit © Christopher Barrett.

1) HVAC

Indoor air quality is an important contributor to IEQ. Your HVAC system plays a big part in air quality by keeping your office space well ventilated, so it should be regularly serviced to keep it working properly.

This will also help to maintain the thermal comfort levels in your organization. Temperature is one of the most common complaints from employees about office working conditions, so it’s clear that maintaining thermal comfort levels is vital for employee wellness. You want to keep your office cool in the summer and warm in the winter, so your employees are spending their time focused on their work, rather than the fact that they’re too hot/cold.

2) Cleaning

A clean and well-maintained space will create a positive environment for your employees and visitors to your organization, so a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule is vitally important.

To improve indoor air quality, you may want to review the cleaning products that your maintenance team use. Cleaning with harsh products can release chemicals into the air, which is just as detrimental to indoor air quality as the dust and germs they’re cleaning up.

3) Flooring

Indoor Air Quality

Your choice of flooring can also play an important role in indoor air quality. Vinyl Composition Tiles (VCT) require a rigorous maintenance schedule that releases wax particulates into the breathing zone and HVAC system, impacting indoor air quality.

In contrast, carpet tiles are able to trap airborne irritants and allergens within its fibers, keeping them out of the breathing zone until they can be removed by vacuuming.

Acoustics

Particularly in open offices, noise levels are one of the biggest challenges that your employees need to deal with. Too much background noise will negatively impact your IEQ – and your employees’ productivity.

In an open office environment, where there’s no walls to block airborne sound (like conversations) or absorb structure-borne sound (like rolling traffic, foot traffic or furniture moving), flooring has a surprising impact on noise levels.

Open-cell cushion-backed carpet has been shown to absorb over 50% more noise than hard-backed products – which in turn absorbs three times more noise than hard flooring products such as VCT. A quieter space will boost productivity, but in addition it simply makes for a more pleasant, less stressful working environment.

4) Lighting

Exposure to natural light is proven to improve health and wellness, and a bright, well-lit space will be more welcoming and create a more positive environment than a dimmer, poorly lit one.

Wherever possible you should try and bring natural light into the workplace. Facilities managers may be able to facilitate this during an office redesign – for example moving from a closed office environment or cubicle working to an open office. You could also consider using more glass internally for partitions rather than opaque walls, which will let the light travel further through your office space.

Discover how to choose the perfect flooring to improve Indoor Environmental Quality, and download our whitepaper below.

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Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert