Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is one of many issues that building owners and developers must address to provide buildings that meet their needs and the needs of the building occupants. While building occupants do sometimes complain about poor IAQ, it is not always on the top of their list of concerns. So why should you worry about IAQ when you have so much else to worry about?
- Better IAQ leads to more productive and happier occupants. In commercial real estate, schools and institutional buildings there is increasing evidence of measurable productivity increases , reduced absentee rates and improved user satisfaction in spaces with better IAQ. In considering the economics of IAQ, it is important to note that the salaries of building occupants are the largest cost associated with building operation, dwarfing energy by a factor of 50 or even 100.
- IAQ problems that get out of hand can be costly in terms of lost work time, lost use of buildings, expensive maintenance and repair, legal costs, and bad publicity. While extreme IAQ problems are rare, they do occur, and the consequences can be dramatic. However, any discomfort caused by poor IAQ will erode occupant productivity, affect occupancy and/or rent levels, and may lead to costs for smaller legal disputes or repairs.
Key IAQ Parameters
- AMBIENT HUMIDITY AND TEMPERATURE - Thermal comfort is an important factor in climate control systems. Under which conditions does one feel comfortable, when does one feel discomfort and at what point do conditions impair human health? Relative humidity and temperature play a key role in this context, and thus personal well-being can be improved by the use of humidity and temperature sensors.
- VOCs - The widespread use of new products and buildingmaterials has resulted in increased concentrations ofindoor pollutants, in particular volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many of these compounds are knownto impair well-being and productivity, e.g. throughheadaches, eye irritation or dizziness, but very little is known about their prevalence and concentration in the indoor environment. AirQnexus gas sensor solutions monitor these indoor air pollutants.
- MICRO PARTICLES - PM2.5 and PM10 refer to particulate matter with particle diameter up to 2.5 microns and 10 microns, respectively, and are among the most dangerous air pollutants. Due to their small size, PM2.5 particles cantravel deep into the human lung and cause a varietyof health issues, for instance, by triggering asthmaattacks or contributing to cardiovascular disease. Recent research into microplastic particles has found that the environment is now saturated with airborne plastic particles both indoors and out, which is likely to have significant health and environmental impacts in future.
- CO2 AND BAROMETRIC PRESSURE - Carbon dioxide is a key indicator for indoor air quality.Thanks to new energy standards and better insulation, houses have become increasingly energy-efficient, but better sealing of the building means the air quality can deteriorate rapidly. Active ventilation is needed to maintain a comfortable and healthy indoor environment and improve the well-being and productivity of the inhabitants. AirQnexus sensor solutions offer an accurate and stable monitoring of CO2 in the air, as well as barometric pressure.
There are 7 separate AQI levels: Excellent, Good, Lightly polluted, Moderately polluted, Heavily polluted, Severely polluted and Extremely polluted. The thresholds for each category were developed based on established national air quality standards. In order to account for the fact that indoor air contains a great many organic compounds and as relatively few guide values have been established, the EPAs developed evaluation standards for assessing indoor air quality by using the sum of volatile organic compounds (TVOC).
COVID-19 Spread and Recommendations
Small airborne particles contribute to the spread of infectious diseases of all sorts, and current concerns about the novel coronavirus COVID-19 are highlighting the role of HVAC systems in minimising airborne disease transmission by improving IAQ in general.
Because small particles can remain airborne for long periods, HVAC systems have a critical role to play in minimizing disease transmission, specifically by:
- Supplying clean air to susceptible occupants
- Containing contaminated air and/or exhausting it to the outdoors
- Diluting the air in a space with cleaner air from outdoors and/or by filtering the air
ASHRAE offers guidance to building owners, operators, and engineers on how to best protect occupants from exposure to the virus and specifically how airborne particles might be circulated by HVAC systems.
Airborne transmission of disease is widely recognized, and although there remains some uncertainty concerning which diseases are spread primarily via which route. However, whether it be airborne, short range droplets, direct or indirect contact, or a combination of mechanisms, ventilation and airflow are effective tools for mitigating transmission of airborne pathogens. Several ventilation and airflow strategies are effective and available for implementation in buildings.
Epidemics are defined in part by their transmission methods. For COVID-19 the standard assumption is that two transmission routes are dominant: via large droplets (droplets/particles emitted when sneezing, coughing or talking) and via surface (fomite) contact (hand-hand, hand-surface etc.). A third transmission route that is gaining more attention from the scientific community is the faecal-oral route.
ASHRAE Recommendations HVAC
To ensure a continuous supply of fresh air while also diluting indoor air contaminants, most of the respected associations and studies recommend increased ventilation.
Maintain minimum humidity levels
The right humidity level is important to minimize the spread of influenza viruses. It is being recommended to set the relative humidity level to optimally 50%, minimum 40% and not exceeding 60%.
Monitor & Analyse BMS & HVAC Functions
HVAC systems function in a critical role in any building.
Everyone becomes acutely aware of HVAC performance when malfunctions occur. The level of interest has only increased today. Whether we are assessing energy efficiency, building sustainability, operations and maintenance performance, or indoor air quality (IAQ), more visibility is required.
While recommendations of the HVAC industry are based on the best available evidence and knowledge, it is up to the HVAC contractors for each building to fulfil these recommendations. Building Owners, Facilities Managers and Tenants need anIndependent source of information about Indoor Air Quality on a floor or HVAC-Zone level in order to verify IAQ standard compliance.
Install a wireless Monitoring System
- Easy retrofitEasy retrofit
- LoRaWAN® - Wireless Sensors with battery
- Independent of existing BMS/HVAC System
- BMS Integration via API, ModBus IP & BACnet
- Wireless LoRa® network can be extended to other useful Services
The AirQnexus IAQ sensor is equipped with the most advanced low-power probes available in the market. The IAQ-Index is based on an on-board software algorithm
- Dual redundant Temperature/Humidity probes
- CO2 probe
- TVOC probe with temperature compensated barometric pressure & humidity
- Light Level
- LoRaWAN® wireless communication
- Battery powered with two 3.6 Lithium Cells
- Optional PM 2.5 and PM 10
IoT Monitoring & Analytics
AirQnexus’s IoT Platform is the arbiter of truth. It provides actionable intelligence and assurance: actionable intelligence from various probes per sensors to allow responsible parties to take immediate action if a threat is detected; and assurance that all the BMS/HVAC measures that are put in place to protect people’s health are working as they should.
Sophisticated reporting capabilities assure owners, tenants, property managers, and stakeholders that healthy air quality levels are being maintained around the clock.
AirQnexus will automatically send notifications as air quality approaches unhealthy levels allowing owners, tenants, and other stakeholders to feel safe in a healthy work environment and get back to business.
AirQnexus and BMS Integration
The Indoor Air Quality Monitoring Solution AirQnexus is available as a cloud system or on-premise. It is based on the IQnexus IoT Platform. The cloud based system can provide BACnet via a local IoT-Controller. The gateway and the controller can be connected over a secure VPN network.
AirQnexus Main Features
- Cloud based on a secure web-server
- On Premise with Nano Server
- Supports different LoRaWAN® networks
- Direct connection of gateways
- Tenant, Client & User Management
- LoRa® Device configuration per Downlink
- Deployment & Commissioning tools
- Remote Device Management
- ModBus IP or BACnet Connectivity
- API and MQTT interface