What is Indoor Environmental Quality?
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) encompasses the conditions inside a building—air quality, lighting, thermal conditions, ergonomics—and their effects on occupants or residents. Addressing IEQ issues can protect human health, improve quality of life, and reduce stress and potential injuries. Better indoor environmental quality can enhance the lives of building occupants, increase the resale value of the building, and reduce liability for building owners and employers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the quality of indoor air inside offices, schools, and other workplaces is important not only for workers’ comfort but also for their health. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Also, some specific diseases have been linked to certain air contaminants or indoor environments, like asthma, with damp indoor environments. In addition, some exposures, such as asbestos and radon, do not cause immediate symptoms but can lead to cancer after years of exposure.
Why is IEQ important to employers?
For most employers, personnel costs such as salaries and benefits outweigh that of operating costs. By investing in quality environmental consulting, employers can see a large return on investment when employees are healthy and productive. IEQ goals often focus on providing stimulating and comfortable environments for occupants and minimizing the risk of building-related health complaints.
At G2 we work with our clients to provide workplaces where people feel good and perform well. G2 environmental consulting project teams balance a selection of strategies that promote efficiency and conservation with those that address the needs of the occupants and promote well-being. Ideally, the chosen strategies do both: the solutions that conserve energy, water and materials also contribute to a great indoor experience.
What are common sources of indoor air contaminants?
Poor ventilation (lack of outside air), high or low humidity, recent remodeling, problems controlling temperature and other activities near a building can affect the fresh air coming into the building. Construction or renovation dust, mold, cleaning supplies, pesticides and other airborne chemicals may cause poor IAQ.
Other sources of indoor air contaminants include:
- People smoking tobacco inside the building or near building entrances or air uptakes
- Building materials such as paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants, and furniture that may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), substances that vaporize at room temperature and can cause odor complaints and health problems
- Combustion processes in HVAC equipment, fireplaces and stoves, and vehicles in garages or near entrances
- Mold resulting from moisture in building materials
- Cleaning materials
- Radon or methane off-gassing from the soil underneath the building
- Pollutants from specific processes used in laboratories, hospitals, and factories
- Pollutants tracked in on occupants’ shoes
- Occupants’ respiration, which increases carbon dioxide levels and may introduce germs
With G2’s environmental consulting services, we can help you to eliminate or control indoor pollutants at their sources and implement cost effective prevention strategies to keep your employees happy, healthy and productive.