Indoor Air Quality Standards and Why They Matter

Indoor Air Quality Standards and Why They Matter

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With ozone alerts, smog, and allergens floating through the air, you likely know how poor air quality can impact your health. However, many people solely focus on outdoor air quality without considering how poor indoor air quality can also affect them. 

Indoor air quality standards help you control indoor pollutants, improving your wellbeing and that of people in your buildings. 

What are Indoor Air Quality Standards? 

Since Americans spend most of their time inside, indoor air quality standards are necessary to avoid detrimental health effects. Air pollutants are highly concentrated indoors. Therefore, people working, playing, and living in public buildings are exposed to these pollutants for long periods. 

Recently, indoor air quality has worsened with energy-efficient building design, synthetic building materials, and other factors. For instance, enhanced sealing designed to prevent leaks helps you save energy. But, it also decreases ventilation, meaning more pollutants can build up in your home or commercial building. Long-term exposure to indoor air contaminants can cause headaches, skin rashes, allergies, dizziness, and an increased risk of cancer. 

To curb these side effects, many industries and organizations have set indoor air quality standards and certifications to make buildings healthier. These standards let you design indoor spaces that prioritize human health and wellness. They help you consider factors like indoor air quality monitors, proper ventilation, and others that keep people safe. 

Indoor Air Quality Guidelines to be Aware Of

Indoor air quality improvement is essential for new and existing public spaces to help limit exposure to harmful particles and improve human health. Here are some standards and guidelines currently impacting the commercial real estate market

WELL Building Standard

WELL is a set of standards designed to improve indoor air quality as well as water and light quality in public buildings. To achieve this standard, you must reduce and remove air contaminants, prevent indoor air pollutants, and design buildings with features that purify the air. 

The WELL Building Standard version 1 only applies to office buildings. However, the program is being adapted to cover more building types. WELL certification is achieved when your site passes a performance inspection. 


RESET® doesn’t apply to buildings themselves but rather to how you collect and report indoor air quality data. This standard encourages building owners and managers to collect data using indoor air quality testing and reporting to create cleaner, livable spaces for everyone. 

To comply with RESET® standards, you must show a commitment to monitoring your indoor air quality with high-grade monitoring tools. You also have to make the results accessible to everyone who wants to see them. 


Fitwel is a global building certification system. You can register any project for certification by evaluating your indoor air quality standards and benchmarking them over time. To be certified, you must show that you’ve optimized your buildings for health and wellness, including proper ventilation and limited exposure to indoor pollutants. 


The UL Solutions Verified Healthy Building Program helps you showcase your commitment to improving indoor air quality. To earn the designation, UL professionals come into your building and test variants in your air to ensure the air quality meets the healthy standards you proclaim to have.

You can apply to become a Verified Healthy Building for air quality or for air and water quality. This verification gives your tenants and visitors peace of mind knowing that their health isn’t in jeopardy. It can also raise your property value since potential buyers know your air quality has been tested. 

What Are Acceptable Air Quality Measurements?
You can’t expect to eliminate all air contaminants from public buildings, but you can aim for indoor air quality measurements that aren’t as harmful to human health and wellbeing. These are the most common contributors to your ambient air quality standard. 


When indoor air isn’t properly ventilated, CO2 from the soil, human activities, and other sources build up in the air. Minimizing CO2 is crucial because if it’s too high, it can impact breathing and cause viruses to spread more quickly. Normal CO2 levels range from between 400 – 1,000 ppm.  

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter refers to microscopic particles floating through the air, including dust, pollen, and mold. If people are walking through your building touching surfaces, you will have particulate matter in your building. 

According to ambient air quality standards, a safe level of exposure to particulate matter is 35 μg/min 24 hours. 

Minimum Ventilation Rates

You can reduce potential impacts from VOCs, CO2, particulate matter, and more by improving indoor ventilation. Every commercial building must meet minimum ventilation rates to keep people from getting sick indoors. 

The minimum is determined by factors such as how many people will be in the building and how close they are to each other. The minimum ventilation rate of a 1,000-square-foot office building would be less than a 1,000-square-foot movie theater seating area since people in a theater sit close together. 

How Do These Standards Affect Building Occupants in Commercial Buildings?

Setting and following indoor air quality standards can help your tenants and occupants live healthier lives. When pollutants in an indoor environment exceed acceptable levels, employees and visitors can get headaches, breathing problems, and other ailments. 

Indoor air quality improvement helps to eliminate contaminants that may make occupants sick, improving their productivity and giving them more energy. Proper ventilation can also make your building occupants feel more comfortable in public spaces, particularly in a post-pandemic world. 

What You Can Do About Your Indoor Air Quality

If you’re committed to maintaining indoor air quality standards in your buildings, monitoring tools will help you stay on target. Senseware offers indoor air quality monitoring you can use to assess indoor air pollution in your buildings, keeping occupants healthy and safe. 

Our IAQ monitoring platform offers real-time solutions that will help you see what’s in your air and fix it. Our IoT architecture measures VOCs, particulate matter, CO2, and other air contaminants that may be lowering your overall building health. 

Use these tools to achieve various healthy building certifications, practice proper building care, and attract occupants to each building. Keep your buildings safe by using our tools to enforce your indoor air quality standards. 

To get started, contact us today for a demo. 


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