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Just Breathe: Air ventilation could be the key to a healthier home

Our home. Our abode. Our sanctuary. Wherever you call home, it should be a clean and healthy place to recharge for your own health and wellbeing. 

Considering we spend 90% of our time at home, our priority should be making sure the quality of our indoor living environment is the best it can be for our own health. 

But recent evidence suggests the air within the buildings we work and live in are more polluted than the outdoor air we breathe. But how is that possible? 

It turns out, indoor pollutants are generated from any number of sources, like second-hand smoke, building materials, furniture, cleaning and hygiene products, air fresheners, computers, printers, cooking, carrying dust in on our shoes and from the carbon dioxide we breathe out. 

Evidence suggests improper air ventilation of these indoor toxins, especially in public buildings like schools and offices can negatively impact the productivity, school attendance and the overall health of children and office workers.  

In fact, there’s a phenomenon called the “sick building syndrome” the concept that spending time in a polluted structure can cause symptoms of sickness like headaches, respiratory issues and nausea.  

Understanding that the air we breathe in indoor spaces is negatively affecting our health and that better building ventilation design can help remedy health outcomes, it’s apparent one of the most important design changes we can make is better air quality management within our buildings.

If we look at air quality management in green-certified buildings, it’s a strong baseline for other buildings to follow suit. A study comparing green buildings to non-green buildings in Singapore demonstrated that green buildings had lower levels of bacteria and fungi, and had more consistent cool air temperature and humidity levels. Not to mention, people who were surveyed about their work conditions within those green buildings reported a lower frequency of headaches, skin irritation and fatigue while at work.

Thankfully, your building doesn’t have to be a new development or green-certified in order to supply fresher, cleaner air. There’s low-hanging fruit that your building can adopt for improved air ventilation.   

Exploring innovative ways to access fresher air could mean running the mechanical ventilation system more or encouraging tenants to open windows to let fresh air in seasonally. Or apply energy measurement technology that can monitor, report back and automatically adjust humidity and cool air levels for improved tenant comfort. 

Smart technology like this is helping existing ventilation systems become more reliable and efficient when it comes to improving air filtration, balancing CO2 levels, regulating building temperatures and providing cleaner air to individual units within multi-residential homes.  

Evidence shows there are great economic and health benefits to improve your building’s air ventilation system. Whether its reduced illness, improved work or academic productivity, or the overall wellbeing of tenants in their homes, we need to make sure we breathe easier and improve air quality for all.