1 September 2021
We spend most of our lives indoors. At home or at work. We know very little about the quality of our indoor air. At best, we know the temperature, oxygen content or recognise odours. It also plays a minor role in the planning and furnishing of buildings. Unfortunately, up to now, this is only given special attention by clients who are particularly interested and who have set an accent on it, e.g. through biological building planning, or by people who already belong to the growing proportion of the population who became ill due to so-called “residential toxins”.
However, we believe that the health of employees and residents should always be an essential part of building planning. This requires a little more investment at the beginning in order to use appropriate materials and plan the right ventilation. Is this investment worthwhile? In our opinion, from a macroeconomic point of view, yes. In most cases, personnel costs are one of the largest cost drivers. This means that if, for example, only a small proportion of sick days can be reduced, a one-off investment is worthwhile, and above all, it protects against the follow-up costs of a possible renovation. In addition, an environment designed to meet the needs of the employees can have a positive effect on their work performance.
The two most important factors in healthy indoor air are the choice of materials and the air exchange rate associated with the building, which can be carried out manually or by systems engineering. While one still has some influence on the second factor in the existing building, the material use of the building is set. Despite the high level of technical development and the knowledge about the possible effects of building material emissions, the planning aspect of indoor air quality is often not or with little importance considered. We encourage all building owners to deal with this aspect and see it as a “must” wherever vulnerable people are involved, such as in the health sector and in day-care centres.
Transferred to the actual situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, special attention is paid to the adhesion of viruses to contact surfaces and their aerosol distribution in indoor air. Here, too, precautions can be taken by the choice of materials (hygienic coatings, alloys for door handles …) and good quality air exchange.
Do you know your air quality? Do you know how good the ventilation is and whether the systems have been well maintained? Do you know the materials used? Often these questions can only be answered inadequately, even in buildings that are not yet old. This also shows that it is necessary to change one’s perspective.
Good planning and management of your projects is important to us and we will be happy to advise you on how to create a good healthy environment for you and your employees.
Article written by Bianca Schmitt, our circular economy expert