Indoor Air Quality Focus:
Air is vital for human life: we can live 30 days without eating, three days without drinking – but only three minutes without breathing. The fresher the air we breathe, the healthier we feel in the buildings we live, work and play in. Yet we don’t often think about air quality as a factor in building design
Indeed, Indoor Air Quality (or IAQ), one of the four foundations of Saint-Gobain’s Multi-Comfort approach, is perhaps the most difficult to appreciate but the one that most impacts our health. IAQ research and goals are two-pronged—to measure indoor pollutants and to develop new products to purify unhealthy air.
While it’s obvious that air is a vital necessity, ensuring good indoor air quality has become more challenging when modern life is lived indoors and energy efficiency makes our buildings more air-tight.
While odors are obvious indicators of bad air, many irritants and unhealthy gases cannot be easily detected by their smells but do affect our health. Smells are consciously perceived by the brain and nervous system, which control moods and emotions. Sometimes, however, chemical and biological pollutants and other odor-free elements or even room stuffiness affect our health and comfort, causing headaches, fatigue, allergies and other reactions to our environment.
The presence of airborne pollutants has one of the greatest impacts on indoor air comfort. The first step in controlling indoor air pollution is therefore to remove emissions of primary and secondary pollutants at source. This can be achieved by paying attention to the ingredients of materials brought into any living or working space and, where possible, choosing healthier alternatives (formaldehyde free, natural products).
However, it’s not always economic, practical or even possible to avoid chemicals. So after the maximum has been done to eliminate the problem at source, other factors should also be considered to help improve overall indoor air quality in any type of building: ventilation, air purification and active scavenging materials.
The impact of indoor air quality on occupants is not limited to its effect on health. Responsible for the well-known Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) symptoms (fatigue, headache, irritations…), stale air does also negatively influence people performances. Based on a thorough literature review, the main scientific evidences highlighting this fact have been gathered in an illustrated booklet, to strengthen how increasing ventilation, reducing pollution load, diminishing CO2 concentration may be beneficial to productivity.
Find out more about the benefits of high indoor air quality on performance and productivity in this booklet.