International IEQ experts Seema Bhangar and Raefer Wallis talk about the complexities of monitoring indoor air quality conditions.
There are a number of factors that affect indoor air quality: climatic conditions such as temperature and humidity, the environmental conditions outside, the number of people in the room, furniture, technical equipment, and the building construction materials.
It is the complexity of the subject matter that has kept Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) out of the spotlight, according to Seema Bhangar, senior indoor quality manager at WeWork in San Francisco.
“When it comes to energy, it’s easy to set a benchmark: you measure the consumption value and then you set a target to reduce this value. Air quality is a much more complex issue, and there are many different benchmarks,” Bhangar said said said said said said said said said said said outlining the difficulty in finding the right approach.
“That’s why almost every company has an energy manager, but hardly any of them have an air quality manager.”
These principles need to be translated into efficient actions. But that requires the right tools.
“Technology has evolved at an incredibly rapid pace over the past few years,” Bhangar said.
“The possibility of measuring, digitalizing, processing, and visualizing things has arrived.”
Welcome to the world of Raefer Wallis. For 15 years, the qualified architect has been working on indoor air quality standards, and from his work has developed the international RESET standard.
“Air quality is not a do-it-yourself issue. It’s far too complex for that,” Wallis said.It’s far too complex for that,” Wallis said.
He explains that there are so many different variables, some of which are actually contradictory —for example, how do you ventilate a room properly if the air outside is polluted?
In this case, solutions implemented without being rooted in data might not be very effective.
In Western countries especially, he said monitoring air quality indoors is largely done through “guesstimating,” i. e. using a broad rule of thumb guideline.
“It’s like a doctor who prescribes a treatment without being able to make a reliable diagnosis,” he said.
Wallis is therefore in favour of intelligent, automated systems—which he also applies himself. “Most people don’t know that suitable technology has been around for a long time,” he said.
RESET uses the data recorded from sensors mounted on the walls or installed in the ventilation system. This is an area in which Wallis also works with ebm-papst, who offer not only fans with certified sensors, but also a platform for processing the data.
With the sensor data, the air quality can be analyzed in real time and subsequently optimized with the help of the platform.
Wallis said this technology doesn’t require a major investment.
“The devices that we work with came onto the market in 2008 and have been designed as smart solutions since 2016. They are now sophisticated, quick to install, and cost-effective.”
RESET is the world's first sensor-based and performance-driven data standard and certification program for the built environment. Particularly in cities with high levels of air pollution, air quality has long been an important issue; globally, the issue has come into focus, especially due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Receiving RESET Certification is based on passing both a site audit and a data audit that confirms compliance with RESET air limits for at least three consecutive months. Here, values for levels of particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, temperature and relative humidity are included in the assessment.