By Joe Scholz, Director
I have fielded a few questions from facility managers about how to respond to tenant’s enquiries about air quality during smoke haze events.
The poor air quality outdoors which arises from bushfire smoke haze, is due to fine particulates within the air.
There is also an odour associated with smoke haze, ‘the campfire odour’, but this is not actually an issue in terms of negatively impacting the health of the building occupants.
The health issue is the very fine particulates that may lodge deep in the lung which can exacerbate or trigger pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Most reasonably sized buildings – office, retail, healthcare – with a centralised air conditioning plant, will have superior air filtration to residential buildings. So if you are trying to avoid the effects of smoke haze it may be better to be at work than at home – assuming you work in a reasonable quality office building (and provided your commute won’t increase your exposure too much).
Many buildings we audit for NABERS Indoor Environment ratings have high quality filters (filter rating F8 or MERV 14) that exceed Australian Standards (minimum filter rating G4 or MERV 7). These filters are specially designed to achieve the flow rates required to provide occupants with enough fresh air, whilst not overloading the system.
If you are a Facility Manager responding to a tenant enquiry, it may be helpful to quote your building’s NABERS IE rating (if you have one) as indicative of the air quality in general and filtration specifically (NABERS IE assessment does include testing for particulates).
Additional actions that Facility Managers may consider are:
SafeWork NSW recommends employers seek confirmation from building owners that the A/C system has been inspected and is properly designe...
The Department of Health (WA) guideline on cleaning chemicals and personal protective equipment (PPE) for cleaning staff....
GRESB now rewards the tracking of waste volumes and recycling rates at the asset level...