How to Achieve Sustainable Indoor Air Quality: A Roadmap

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August 2, 2022

Across the country, building owners, facility managers, and engineers are experimenting with how to bring tenants back into commercial workspaces. Between the White House’s Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, employees leery of a return to the office (72% of office workers worldwide worry about air quality in their buildings) and ongoing variants – indoor air quality is in the spotlight.

Balancing the need to attract wary employees back into the workspace with energy conservation can be a challenge.

How Poor Indoor Air Quality Impacts Building Occupants

 Most Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors and many of them spend that time in an office environment. Studies conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others show that indoor environments sometimes can have levels of pollutants that are higher than levels found outside.

Studies also show how air quality in office buildings causes low employee productivity, increased cases of absenteeism, higher operational costs, and chronic health issues like asthma.

None of this is new.

What is new is the renewed call to action to governments, building owners and operators, schools, and universities to prioritize cleaning up the air that people breathe. 

How can you improve air quality while meeting building decarbonization and climate resiliency goals?

Awair came together with a consortium of leading indoor air quality (IAQ) organizations to give you an actionable roadmap to improving indoor air quality and meeting building decarbonization and climate resiliency goals. 

The four-step Clean First framework shows how it is possible to achieve Sustainable IAQ – better indoor air quality more energy efficiently with improved resilience to outside air pollutants. The paper also offers recommendations for how to implement the Clean First framework.

Download the white paper now.

Creating a Sustainable IAQ Plan

Step 1: Define Your IAQ Goals

Identify which air factors are most important to you. Start with leading indicators that are representative of big classes of problems and move from there. Read a detailed discussion of common IAQ metrics and their advantages and disadvantages.

Step 2: Clean Indoor Air

Maximize the amount of cost-effective air cleaning for recirculated air. Cost-effectiveness should be evaluated based on the total lifecycle cost to achieve your IAQ targets. In most climates, cleaning indoor air will be more energy efficient and cost effective than conditioning large volumes of outside air. 

Step 3: Optimize Ventilation

Once you have maximized the amount of cost-effective air cleaning for recirculated air, determine how much outside air is needed in addition to the cleaned indoor air to comply with building codes and achieve your IAQ targets. This may include deploying energy recovery systems with high sensible and latent recovery to make the conditioning of outside air as efficient as possible. 

Step 4: Validate, Monitor & Control IAQ

The final step is to continuously monitor your indoor air quality. What do you do with that data? Start the virtuous cycle: measure, establish a baseline, improve, and verify.

Ready for Sustainable IAQ? Download the whitepaper.

It’s Time to Start Monitoring Your Office Environment

In the post-pandemic office, the amenity employees are looking for is clean air.  While 9 out 10 office workers want to be kept informed of their buildings air quality, a mere 15% get regular updates.

A device like Awair Omni alerts you to the presence PM2.5 (fine dust), VOCs (volatile organic compounds), CO2, temperature, humidity, and more. Share the Indoor Air Quality score of your space with others using Lobby Mode and compare data over time with the Awair Dashboard.

To start monitoring the air quality in your business, contact our Sales Team today. They would love to discuss our key learnings and best practices with you and see how we can help you.


With thanks to the white paper collaborators 75F, Enverid, GIGA, Oxygen8, Planled, and SafeTraces as well as industry reviewers.