C Suite executives trying to bring workers back to the office could have spent more time thinking about indoor air quality and ventilation over the past year and a half than at any other time in their pre-pandemic life. There is sex.
That’s because healthy buildings have become the latest temptation to bring employees back to the office. People are slowly returning to face-to-face work, so they are naturally worried about how safe they are. Companies continue to reassure workers that desks, computer keyboards, elevator buttons, and all other public surfaces are well sterilized.
But now they are also paying attention to how healthy the air in these buildings is. Not only does this prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses, but it also affects how air quality affects cognitive function.
Joseph G. Allen, an associate professor at Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health and director of Harvard Health, said:Building program at CNBC Labor Enforcement Council Wednesday summit meeting. “Better ventilation significantly improves the cognitive performance of employees, which helps workers’ health and productivity.”
Allen said the growing interest in air quality inside the building was due to a better understanding of how Covid-19 would spread. Cleaning the surface and following the 6-foot distance rule means that the virus spreads through the droplets released when we cough or sneeze, and these droplets cannot move beyond 6 feet. It made sense when it was believed.
In reality, Covid-19 is diffused through respiratory aerosols that travel well beyond 6 feet, Allen said. “When we’re talking, coughing, sneezing, or just breathing, we’re constantly releasing different sizes of breathing aerosols,” he said. I added. “If we get infected, those particles can carry the virus, move across any room, and stay in the air for hours. The doctrine of droplets is over.”
Poorly ventilated rooms and buildings mean that these breathing aerosols can accumulate and infect someone well beyond their 6-foot distance. “All the outbreaks we see have the same characteristics,” Allen said. “Time spent indoors in a poorly ventilated area. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spin class, choral practice, or a restaurant. It’s the same fundamental underlying factor that facilitates communication.”
Companies can take action to counter this, according to Allen. “Indoor air quality will be part of future conversations, just as we have significantly improved public health in terms of hygiene, water quality and food safety,” he said.
Employees will wear protective masks at the JLL office in Menlo Park, California, USA, on Tuesday, September 15, 2020.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The first step is for the building manager to determine which systems are installed and whether they are working as designed. “It sounds obvious, but in many cases, it’s left unattended for 10 or 15 years after the device is put in, and it doesn’t adjust like a car,” Allen explains.
Maximizing the amount of outside air entering a building is another step to take. And finally, Allen said the air filter needed to be upgraded to something called MERV 13 (MERV represents the minimum efficiency report value). He explained that a typical building has a MERV8 filter that captures about 20% of suspended particles. The MERV 13 filter captures over 90% of these particles.
These high quality filters not only improve air quality and reduce virus spread, but also help improve worker performance.
Harvard’s Allen team recently published a one-year survey of workers around the world. An air quality sensor was placed on each desk. A custom-designed smartphone app allowed these workers to take a simple cognitive function test. Allen found that people with well-ventilated air and low particle levels performed significantly better in these tests than those working in areas with poor air quality.
“The great thing about all of this is that a healthy building strategy helps protect against infections, but it also improves the health, productivity and performance of workers,” says Allen.
Allen wrote in a 2020 book, “Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Promote Performance and Productivity,” co-authored with Harvard Business School instructor John D. McConver, on Air Quality. It shows that improved ventilation leads to higher profits. business. According to his Harvard University research and financial simulations, the benefits of increased ventilation are estimated to be between $ 6,500 and $ 7,500 per person per year. Allen, in an April 2020 Harvard Business Review article co-authored with McConver, could add $ 20 billion annually to the U.S. economy if researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory improve the indoor air quality of their offices. It states that it is presumed to be.
“From the late 1970s, in response to the global energy crisis, we began to tighten buildings and in the process cut off the air supply to save energy,” Allen said. In doing so, we ushered in the sick house era.
“It’s not surprising that there are high levels of indoor air pollution and sick house syndrome where people can’t concentrate on the meeting room and always feel sleepy at work,” he said.
And, contrary to what many think, it’s not just new modern buildings that can focus on health. “Any building can be a healthy building, it’s not difficult to do, and it’s not too expensive,” he added. “In fact, I argue that healthy buildings are not expensive. Sick buildings are expensive.”
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Healthy buildings help thwart Covid-19 and increase worker productivity
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