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“I can't stand the smell of the office anymore!”

Posted on October 21, 2019
by Misha Ma
There are several days in a month
when you don't want to go to work,
You can put it down to a bad mood, a bad health,
But some white-collars have their own special reasons:

I can't stand the smell of the office anymore!

What could be the reason for the smell of office?
When going to the office in the morning, 
colleagues eat leek steamed stuffed bun;
 Colleague changed new perfume;
The smell of the newly renovated office is too choking;
After lunch time,
 office filled with Malatang smell all afternoon;
And the co-worker who doesn't shower or change his clothes or wash his hair

Of course, these are just the " strongest" office smells.

Those invisible "smells" are even more "deadly":
That kind of "stuffy" feeling after noon in office;
The "human smell" in a small conference room after two hours' meeting;
 The office windows are still open on a PM2.5-exceed-limit day

...

Oiffce, as a white-collars' eight-hour space,
Air quality is really important.

 

According to the big data report on
 indoor PM2.5 pollution released by Tsinghua university in 2015, 

per capita indoor PM2.5 intake is as four times as outdoor PM2.5 intake.

“”

According to the survey, Beijing's indoor air is at the "pollution" level for one third of the time, and the average indoor PM2.5 intake is as four times as the outdoor air.Under the same external conditions, the indoor PM2.5 level in the office environment is slightly better than the living environment, and the indoor PM2.5 level above the 17th floor is the best.

 

And living in the city,
on average,
we spend 90% of our day indoors

Therefore, indoor air quality (IAQ) is more worthy of our attention.

  • PM2.5: particulate matter with diameter of 2.5 microns or less in ambient air.

  • TVOC: total volatile organic compounds, indoor all organic gaseous substances.

  • Formaldehyde: colorless gas, has a special odor of irritation, the eyes, nose and other stimulation.

The above pollutants will cause different parts of the human body, different degrees of harm. Dark pollutants indicate a high risk of cancer after long-term exposure. It can be seen that indoor air quality is closely related to our health.

When you choose decoration materials and furniture, improper selection will increase the release of formaldehyde, TVOC and PM2.5.

Indoor combustion behavior and the use of cleaning agents will release CO2, CO, TVOC.

Usually everyone in the office will use a variety of electrical equipments, such as printers, computers and so on, but little do they know that these equipments will generate static electricity and O3.

 

The air we breathe at work can have a huge impact on our wellbeing and productivity. Healthy buildings pioneer Raefer Wallis tells Work in Mind that the conversation is increasingly focusing on liability - By Sophie Barton

Ask Canadian architect Raefer Wallis to rate the importance of air quality, and he doesn’t miss a beat. “It outranks food and water,” he says, simply. “We can live for three weeks without food and three days without water, but we can’t survive more than three minutes without air.

“I’m often approached by people who tell me they want their building to be healthy and they’re not sure where to start. But it’s a no-brainer. You’re breathing 15,000 litres of air a day and just a small change in CO2 levels can cause a 10-20% drop in productivity.”

Wallis has been lauded as a “guiding light” for his pioneering work in pursuit of healthier buildings. Based in Shanghai, he created ORIGIN, the largest public resource of data on building materials. He is also the CEO and creator of RESET, a technology-driven healthy building standards and certification program which focuses on indoor air quality and the wellbeing of the occupants. Sensors are used to provide real-time data, which shows fluctuations in air quality and allows building owners and facilities managers to alter their behaviour accordingly.

1 Deeper Awareness

There’s no doubt that the last two decades have seen a seismic shift in the way we think about the air we breathe. According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution kills around 7 million people worldwide each year and is the single biggest environmental health risk. And when it comes to internal air quality, we are becoming increasingly aware of the invisible toxins emanated from furniture, paint and cleaning products.

 

“I’ve been working on this topic for 15 years,” says Wallis. “At first nobody knew what we were talking about or why it mattered, but now internal air quality is a number one concern. We really created RESET to solve the problems we had in China, but now it’s an international system and I’m watching it be applied to projects around the world.

“We started RESET because we realised how volatile air quality was, and that there were no standards for tracking it in continuous time. It should be measured at the very least once an hour, not just once every quarter.

 

“Over the years we realised we needed to set standards for the hardware and installation too – where you physically place sensors is critical. Then there are the software standards, which form the foundation of RESET. The easiest place to cheat with data is with the software.”

2 Invisible Hazard

So, when it comes to internal air quality, what exactly are the invisible threats? And what impact can they have on those using a space?

 

“Without question the top global concern is VOCs [volatile organic compounds],” explains Wallis. “The second is CO2, which is more of a productivity and comfort concern, then closely behind that is particulate matter. Then there are geography-specific hazards, such as ozone in places with lots of chemical manufacturing.”

VOCs are released by many of the products that surround us day-to-day, including some paints, glues, wood preservatives, cleaners, building materials, furnishings, copy machines and printers.

 

“Sources can include some of the glues that go into plywood, pressed boards and veneers,” says Wallis. “There are glues we don’t even think about too, such as those that fill some carpets. Flooring and board materials are often big culprits. Our understanding of VOCs is pretty medieval, but the ability to measure air quality in real-time means the topic is hitting a whole other level of maturity.”

3 The Impact on Wellbeing

Wallis cites dizziness, nausea, red eyes and concentration issues amongst the symptoms triggered by high levels of some VOCs. “Those are common symptoms,” he explains. “At the other end of the spectrum is plain death, and there are more cases of that than we want to account for. It’s thought long term exposure may be linked to cancers and leukaemia.”

 

As well as health concerns, high levels of VOCs have alarming consequences for productivity. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health suggested a 13% decrease in productivity for every 500μg/m3 increase in VOC. Likewise, a 21% drop in productivity was also associated with a 400ppm increase in CO2. With staff often accounting for 90% of overheads, these represent a staggering cost for any business and a strong economic incentive to implement RESET.

 

“We’ll show the Harvard study to a client, then run the numbers on a base productivity increase of 10%,” says Wallis. “It’s a conservative approach to the Harvard numbers but, even then, we can show insanely short payback periods of anything from four hours to one month.”

 

4 A Focus on Liability

Yet Wallis adds that while productivity was once a key driver for clients, there is a gradual shift in the conversation.

 

“At the start, it was all about productivity,” he says. “But now we’re getting interest around the topic that nobody wants to talk about in public, which is liability. It’s one of the main reasons people pursue RESET, because now it’s possible for an employee to walk into any office with a consumer grade monitor and get an indication of what’s going on in terms of air quality.

 

“It’s critically important for building owners and corporates to be 100% on top of it – they want to manage and deflect issues before they become issues. Today, the conversations are less about how much more money a company can make if they implement RESET. Instead, it’s more about how much business they could lose if they are shown to have poor air quality.”

 

What can Pureliving do for your office air?

 

Here are few projects that have recently been RESET certified through Pureliving's help:

Beijing Kerry Centre

Offices at BKC has been awarded with

RESET Air for Core and Shell certification

Getting RESET Air for Core & Shell certification isn't easy

RESET Air for Core & Shell specifies the selection, installation, maintenance of Air monitoring equipment and the communication and transmission of data to ensure the reliability of data.

RESET® Air for Core & Shell certification means that the building continues to provide healthy air for tenants and meets the following performance requirements on daily average during working hours:

 
 
HOW WE HELPED

Pureliving provided partial green building advisory service (RESET certification) and real-time monitoring system for Kerry MUD (Mix Used Department) office buildings.The project includes 12 office buildings in China.

One Museum Place Hines Office
 
Hines office has been awarded with

RESET air for commercial interiors

 

Commercial Interior certification, the Hines Shanghai Office was required to consistently ensure that their IAQ, measured as daily working hour averages across 3-months, met the following criteria:

HOW WE HELPED

PureLiving provides the peace of mind air solution for Hines Shanghai Office:
  • Commercial type in-ceiling air filtration system, including carbon filters
  • EcoControl System (ECS™) to manage filtration system by demand and predict maintenance
  • RESET certified grade B real-time indoor and in-duct air quality monitors
  • Pre-verification testing and consulting services

Pureliving believes,

Through our services,

Indoor environment will no longer be a problem in China;

Of course,

You can't have smell of office to blame as a reason for absence!

 

About PureLiving

PureLiving is a leading indoor environmental consulting company with a simple mission: to help our clients create healthy homes and workplaces. Our expert team of building engineers, HVAC specialists, and environmental consultants advises clients on air and water quality, mold, asbestos and lead exposure issues and helps to improve their indoor environmental quality through testing to identify sources of pollution and then eliminating them. Our total range of solutions includes pollutant testing, design and installation of cutting-edge filtration systems, monitoring, and odor and chemical reduction.

With operations in six cities across China, Hong Kong, and India, PureLiving is the industry’s provider of choice for assessment, engineering, implementation, and monitoring of indoor environmental quality. Find out more at www.purelivingchina.com.

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