how-to-achieve-optimal-building-health

How to Achieve Optimal Building Health

Previously, we’ve discussed about what makes a building healthy and the negative effects when a building is not healthy. To help you achieve optimal building health, we’ve prepared a list of actionable events that your business can take up. 

factors-affecting-building-health-graphic
Source: https://9foundations.forhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/9_Foundations_of_a_Healthy_Building_February_2017_R1.8.pdf

Air quality

We tend to be less aware of the indoor air quality. When we think of the outdoor air quality, we think of smog. This isn’t the case with the air inside our office building. We turn on the A/C and utilize air fresheners, rendering the poor indoor air quality invincible. To improve your air quality, follow these simple suggestions: 

  1. Implement a non-smoking policy. 
  2. Use materials and furnishing with low carbon emissions. 
  3. Provide living indoor plants and properly maintain them.
  4. Replace air filters from your air purifier frequently. 

Ventilation

Ventilation helps make the office feels light and fresh. There are a number of ways to ventilate your workspace. 

  1. Natural ventilation. Open the doors and windows to let fresh air circulate the area. It’s important to note that you should only open the doors and windows if the outdoor air is good. 
  2. Spot ventilation. This method removes air pollution at the source. You can install ventilation in office equipment such as the printer or if you run a restaurant, invest in stove hoods. 
  3. Whole-building ventilation. Controlled ventilation uses exhaust fans and duct systems to remove polluted air. Then, fresh and clean air simultaneously circulates throughout the building. 
  4. Air conditioning. Air conditioners draw out pollen, dust, and other impurities from the air, and filter them. Thus, providing cool and clean air to your workspace.

Thermal health

An important aspect in obtaining optimal building health is the thermal comfort. Thermal comfort refers to a person wearing normal clothing feels neither too cold nor too warm. In Malaysia, a study on thermal comfort states that 240C to 250C is the most ideal temperature in an office. Ensure a constant temperature and humidity throughout the day to achieve thermal health.

Noise

Acceptable background noise in the office is at 35 decibels (dB) [for reference, a whisper is at 30 dB] and a maximum reverberation time of 0.7 seconds. We suggest following these steps to reduce noise in the office:

  1. Dedicate a quiet/noise space.
  2. Install partitions.
  3. Choose noise-friendly flooring like carpets.

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Lighting and views

People receive about 85% of their information through their sight. Good lighting includes one that is neither too bright nor dim, has minimal glare and shadows. For better lighting at the office, 

  1. Allow natural light in heavily used areas. 
  2. Use artificial lighting that imitates natural light.
  3. Paint with bright colours and coat with matte finishing to prevent glare. 

Water quality

We consume water for drinking and sanitation purposes. Clean water is especially important to carry out our daily activities. To ensure the office’s water quality is at a good standing, follow these steps: 

  1. Routinely conduct water testing.
  2. Keep your water filters clean. 
  3. Maintain the building plumbing and pipes to prevent stagnation.
  4. Properly dispose of hazardous wastes.

Moisture

The cause and effect of moisture may not be the most visible. Often hidden under carpets and wallpapers, excessive moisture is potentially dangerous. The acceptable humidity levels in a commercial building are within 40 to 60% relative humidity (RH). Conduct regular inspections to identify and solve moisture sources.

Dust and pests

Another way to achieve optimal building health is by maintaining the cleanliness of your commercial space. Prevent your office from being overwhelmed with dust mites and pests in these five ways: 

  1. Remove trash daily.
  2. Seal entry points.
  3. Vacuum surfaces regularly with high-efficiency filters.
  4. Hire professionals every 3-6 months to deep clean your carpet and upholstery.
  5. Avoid the use of pesticides. 

Safety and security

It is important to be safe than sorry. Implement an active emergency plan to better prepare your employees in cases of danger.

  1. Meet the fire safety and carbon monoxide monitoring standards.
  2. Use video monitoring and CCTV.
  3. Set up an alarm system that can immediately alert you when triggered.
  4. Provide adequate locks on your property. 
  5. Use effective lighting.
  6. Set up a lock system on your laptop and computer to prevent stolen data. 
  7. Keep important physical documents and cash in a locked safe.

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