From diesel car emissions to chemicals in household products, there is an ever growing number of contributors to air pollution. Outdoor pollutants filter into indoor environments and combine with contaminants from burning fuels, candles and tobacco, as well as emissions from building materials, furnishings, electronic equipment, the list goes on. As people in Europe spend at least 90% of their time indoors, poor air quality can have a massive impact on our heath and productivity.
The government approved guidance on how to comply with Building Regulations concerning ventilation, sets performance criteria for several air pollutants, including VOCs, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. The control of pollutants depends on both tackling their sources and having adequate ventilation with 'fresh' outdoor air. Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV) solutions, such as Jaga Oxygen, can control indoor air quality (IAQ) while maintaining an optimum indoor environment.
Here are 5 reasons why you should invest in a DCV system for your building:
1) Manually operating ventilation isn’t enough
Manually opening a window may marginally improve air quality, but it can be difficult to measure and maintain CO2 levels as well as creating drafts and potential noise distractions. This also isn’t practical in environments were safety is of paramount concern, such as schools and care homes. By applying demand control ventilation to opening windows you can provide more control and generate energy savings.
2) Boost productivity
If you manage an office or a school, then you should be aware of the influence air quality can have over productivity and learning. Recent research by the University of Reading found that air quality conditions in 35% of classroom hours were inadequate, with pupils and teachers exposed to CO2 concentrations of up to 3.5 times the government recommended average levels of 1500 ppm. At the eight schools tested, memory and reaction times of the children were investigated, and it was found that both were worse off when exposed to the higher levels of CO2 in the classrooms.
A DCV system such as Jaga’s Oxygen can monitor CO2 levels and react accordingly.
3) Reduce sick days
IAQ has a major influence on inhabitants’ health. Pollutants' impacts depends on their toxicity, concentration and exposure period, and range from odour to irritation to serious toxic effects. At its worst, poor IAQ can cause health problems for both students and staff such as: cough, eye irritation, headache, allergic reactions and, in rarer cases, life-threatening conditions such as Legionnaire’s disease, or carbon monoxide poisoning. As many office workers know, once one person has a cold the rest of them is sure to fall ill too. Improving IAQ with demand-controlled ventilation systems prevents the spread of contagious, airborne flu virus from common areas.
4) Improve energy efficiency
Mechanical DCV systems only ventilate a room when needed. This means that when a building is unoccupied or in light use – such as schools or workplaces during holiday periods, or even at certain times during the day – the ventilation can work at a very low level. On the flip side, for schools, on days or times when levels of CO2 are incredibly high due to the occupancy of pupils, then the system can kick in at a more intense level and ensure that the IAQ remains at the optimum level for the building’s occupants.
5) Achieve best practice
In January 2017 the government published a draft version of the long-awaited update to the Building Bulletin 101 (BB101) – “Guidelines on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality in schools”. This advises that CO2 – a direct indicator of IAQ – the average concentration of carbon dioxide should not exceed 1500 parts per million (ppm) (1000ppm for mechanical or hybrid ventilation systems). By decreasing the indoor CO2 levels to 1,000ppm, illness and absenteeism in students can decrease by up to 2.5%. While the final version of these guidelines has not yet been released its important for schools to start prioritising indoor air quality now.
Investing in an effective DCV solution means that you can maintain a clean, comfortable and safe environment for your building’s occupants. It doesn’t have to be expensive and as CO2 levels are constantly monitored, this means energy isn’t wasted unnecessarily.
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