Poor indoor ventilation leads to low indoor air quality — a health hazard that can affect the comfort, health, and well-being of many people. Improving ventilation ensures that individuals are breathing cleaner air and is also critical for curbing the spread of viruses like COVID-19.
How does it help to enhance indoor air quality? Maintaining a constant flow of indoor air can help building operators reduce the concentration of indoor air pollutants and contaminants. Today you will learn five easy and effective ways to improve the ventilation in your building.
Why Is Indoor Ventilation So Important?
Bad indoor air quality can arise from a high concentration of pollutants and airborne particles such as dust, carbon dioxide, soot, and pollen. Poor ventilation reduces air circulation, further exposing you to health risks through airborne transmissions. The COVID-19 virus is a respiratory illness that spreads through contact with infectious aerosol droplets.
These airborne particles can carry and transmit the disease at a distance greater than six feet. The chances of inhaling these droplets increase with the accumulation of viral particles and poor ventilation. With SARS-CoV-2 restrictions lessening and people easing up on wearing masks, there is a growing worry about the return of the pandemic.
Luckily, there are a few specific measures you can still implement to curb the spread of contagious diseases. The launch of the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge by the White House acknowledges the critical role indoor air quality ventilation plays in healthy living. This initiative calls on facility managers, building owners, schools, and colleges to implement measures to enhance indoor air.
A sound ventilation system ensures:
- Availability of fresh air for breathing
- Appropriate internal humidity
- Proper thermal comfort
- Lower build-up of airborne impurities
How To Improve Poor Ventilation in Indoor Spaces
By the time you notice condensed moisture on surfaces, mold growth, and residual odors, you’ve likely been inhaling polluted air for quite some time. You can improve poor ventilation by enhancing indoor air flow, getting fresh air into your building, and filtering the present air. These five cost-effective strategies can help you achieve energy-efficient ventilation in your building.
1. Increase Air Flow With Strategic Fan Placement
Careful and calculated fan placement is a simple yet effective strategy you can use to improve your indoor air quality. Fans are also an excellent energy-saving option for indoor thermal control during summer.
A fan enhances cooling by displacing cold settled air and pushing it upward and outward into hot air pockets. The air disruption sets up a wind chill that causes indoor airflow. With a strong and properly coordinated fan system, you can create a refreshing and cooling indoor air circulation system that lowers your power bills.
Consider pointing portable fans away from people and near open windows and doors to achieve optimal air circulation. This placement clears airborne particles and contaminants, preventing them from spreading and accumulating in your building. Also, direct fans away from desks or tabletops with light objects or loose paper to avoid any unnecessary mess.
2. Create Natural Ventilation by Opening Doors and Windows
Opening doors and windows ensure a constant flow of air into your building. The wind is an abundant source of air that your ventilation system can filter to improve indoor air quality. Natural ventilation helps to replenish oxygen that is often depleted in indoor spaces with poor ventilation. Opening doors and windows frequently can reduce mold formation and eliminate lingering stale odors.
However, unrestricted air entry from outside puts you at risk of outdoor air pollution gaining entry. Avoid opening the windows if your outdoor environment has a high concentration of pollutants like vehicle exhaust, industrial fumes, and foul garbage odor.
3. Ditch Excess Furniture and Items To Minimize Unventilated Space
Letting go of your sizeable antique furniture collection may be challenging but can help to improve indoor air quality. Excess furniture can cover air vents on walls or the floor and end up overworking your ventilation system.
Sometimes, you may opt to cover air ducts to hide the metal grill intentionally. This interior design flaw ends up compromising your ventilation system. You can instead spread out the furniture and paint the grill to match your color scheme. Decluttering increases your open space, enhances air circulation, and improves the efficiency of your ventilation system.
4. Ensure Physical Distancing of Objects Whenever Possible
The COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to debates on whether droplets of the virus can spread through contact with contaminated objects. Research has shown that viruses don't persist for long on objects and at farther distances. However, you can further lower the risk level of virus transmission through fomites with adequate item spacing.
Poor air movement results in the accumulation of infectious particles, which pose a danger to the occupants. To improve your building's ventilation, you can measure the distance between objects in the layout of a room. This step allows even, free airflow and reduces the levels of polluted indoor air.
5. Invest in Filters To Create an Air Filtration System
Air filters are helpful in the reduction of contaminants in room air. They remove contaminants from the air that passes through them. Their role is essential when your outdoor delivery options become limited.
The filters use the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) to indicate how well they can trap air contaminants. MERV 13 or higher filters can capture the SARS-CoV-2 virus particles at more than 80% efficiency. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters have more than 99% efficiency at catching the virus.
Installation of correctly sized and well-fitting filters to your ventilation system helps to avoid unfiltered air leakages. For better protection against COVID-19, use the CDC recommended practices to further lower airborne transmission.
How Indoor Air Quality Sensors Can Enhance Your Building's Ventilation Rates
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) sensors provide precise and regular readings of contaminants in the air. The user-friendly technology lets you detect carbon monoxide, allergens, mold, volatile organic compounds, and more. With the help of wireless IAQ retrofits, facility managers can get real-time air quality updates and make necessary adjustments to the building’s ventilation rates.
Senseware offers a Ventilation Performance Index that lets you quickly understand the state of your air quality. The Senseware Ventilation Score is calculated based on
continuous measurements of the following contaminants: CO2, TVOC, and number of particles of size 0.3 to 2.5μm. The current contaminant readings along with their rate of decay over the last 10 minutes are taken into consideration to compute an index that reflects the effectiveness of the ventilation system (mechanical or natural) at removing contaminants from a certain space at a certain time. The Senseware Ventilation Score values are between 0% (worse) and 100% (best). The index is designed to be 50% when a pollutant is 500 above its acceptable limit at 0.5 calculated Air Exchange per hour.
Senseware offers the ideal solution to your IAQ quality monitoring with top-notch Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Our platform is customizable and utilizes patented technology to give insights into IAQ metrics such as the risk of infection levels and ventilation performance index. Contact us today to schedule a demo of our IAQ sensors to improve your building's ventilation and air quality.
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