Best Practice for maintaining ventilation systems to provide clean air for a healthy office environment.
At Stanway Interiors, we work with the very best air conditioning companies, ventilation experts and designers to ensure that our design and build projects provide fresh, clean, healthy air for the offices we work on. Once our projects are handed back to you, though, the management of the ventilation system is of paramount importance to ensure that a healthy office environment is maintained.
Maintaining good indoor air quality in office buildings requires attention to the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system as well as the initial design and layout of space and pollutant source management. HVAC systems are made up of the equipment used to ventilate, heat and cool the building, to move the air around the building (ductwork) and to filter and clean the air. An office HVAC system has a significant impact on how pollutants are distributed and removed. It is possible, however, that HVAC systems which are not well managed can even act as sources of pollutants. For example, when ventilation air filters become contaminated with dirt or moisture and when microbial growth results from water sitting for long periods in drip pans or if left uncontrolled within ductwork.
Good indoor air quality management includes attention to:
- Ventilation system design. The air delivery capacity of an HVAC system is based in part on the projected number of people and amount of equipment in an office building. When we create a design and build project brief with you, at Stanway Interiors, we will ask a significant number of questions around the final use of different areas of the building and around the quantity of employees and type of work conducted in each of the areas of the office. We will always look to have maintenance managers in attendance for at least one of these meetings. When areas in a building are used differently than their original purpose, the HVAC system may require modification to accommodate these changes. For example, if a storage area is converted into desk space or a meeting room, the HVAC system may require alteration to deliver the correct level of conditioned air to the space. If a server room is transformed into an office, this level may require reduction. Conversely, changing a bike store into a meeting room will require more.
- Outside air supply. An adequate supply of outside air, typically delivered through the HVAC system, is necessary for any office environment to dilute pollutants that are released by equipment, building materials, furnishings, products and of course the office employees. Distribution of ventilation air to occupied spaces is essential for comfort. An office that is too cold or too hot can be equally damaging to employee motivation, satisfaction and even output efficiency.
- Air quality from the outside in. Properly installed and maintained filters can trap many harmful particles such as carbon monoxide, pollen and dust in this outdoor supply air. If left to filter into the office building, air pollutants may affect indoor conditions.
- Space planning. During the briefing stage of any design and build project, you undertake with Stanway Interiors, we will look to understand the use and placement of furniture and equipment as this will affect the delivery of air to an occupied space. Screens, internal walls and the placement of heat generating equipment, like a computer, can have significant results. New wall configurations added after we complete our project with you, might change or stop supply and flow to an area. Placing computing equipment directly under a thermostat could cause the HVAC system to deliver too much cool air, as it thinks that the computer generated heat is reflective of the temperature of the whole area.
- System maintenance.Careful and controlled maintenance of HVAC equipment via an audited due diligence record is essential for the office air quality. Engaging in a preventative maintenance programme will ensure that faults never become serious issues.
- Pollutant Pathways. Pollutants can spread throughout a building by moving through stairwells, elevator shafts and wall spaces. Special ventilation or other control measures may be needed for some sources.
Maintaining a high level of air quality
Even though the factors that affect the quality of the indoor environment are numerous, the good news is that most indoor environmental problems can be avoided through initial office design and build processes and then prevented or corrected easily and inexpensively through the application of common sense and vigilance on the part of everyone in the building. Success depends on cooperative actions taken by building management and office teams to improve and maintain indoor air quality. By becoming knowledgeable about indoor air quality, employees are in a good position to help building managers maintain a comfortable and healthy office. Your teams should be briefed to report any issues if they;
- Identify or suspect air problems or issues
- Require the support of a cleaning and maintenance service
- Plan to install new or change the location of existing office equipment
- Experience leaks, spills, or accidents
Clean air is everyone’s responsibility
All of the employees of an office building can have a great influence on indoor air quality. Everyday activities like heating food in a microwave and using the photocopier can generate odours and pollutants. By being aware of indoor air issues, team members can help prevent problems. For example;
- Ensuring that vents and grills are left free of obstacles.Keep supply vents and air vents unblocked, so as not to unbalance the HVAC system. Furniture, boxes or other materials moved to near supply vents or return air vents may also affect airflow. Follow your office’s procedures to notify building management if your space is too hot, too cold, stuffy, drafty or changes in any way- including a change in odours.
- Smoking Policy.Allow employees to smoke in designated external areas only. Although this is law, sometimes rules are stretched. Keeping the air smoke free and smoking areas away from inward air vents is vital
- Water and maintain office plants properly and report water leaks right away.Clean up all water spills promptly. Water creates a perfect environment for the growth of micro-organisms such as moulds or fungi. Some of these microbes, if they become airborne, can cause health problems.
- Dispose of rubbish.The disposal of rubbish and food waste should be into appropriate containers that are emptied daily to prevent odours and any chance of biological contamination.
- Provide adequate food storage facilities.Food attracts pests. Some foods, if left unrefrigerated, can spoil and generate unpleasant odours. Never store perishable food products in your desk or on shelves. The fridge should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent odours. Keep kitchens and dining areas clean. Use sanitising sprays as necessary to prevent pests and maintain hygiene.
- Notify your building or facility manager immediately if you suspect an air quality problem.Determining as issue quickly and finding a solution reduces the potential issue from becoming larger. It is human nature to presume that someone else has reported an issue, but it is far better for a report to be brought forward multiple times than not at all.
If you are considering an office refurbishment or move, are looking for advice or solutions for a growing or changing employee number or are looking for a start to finish design and build project, please use the contact us button and we will be in touch shortly. Ensuring best Practice for maintaining ventilation systems to provide clean air for a healthy office environment is vital for the welfare of our office environment and teams.