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How To Have A Building That Hums, Is Healthy and Saves Money.  Do You Know If Your Building Is Healthy, Fire Safe and Energy-Efficient?

If you are a building owner or property manager, you want to attract long-term tenants and realize building operating cost efficiencies, but can you make that claim presently? After all, buildings don’t necessarily operate as designed, especially after a number of years. And if commissioning or retro-commissioning by a team of experts has not taken place and adjustments made to heating, ventilation and a-c (HVAC) and other operating systems, you won’t be realizing energy efficiency savings and occupants may be unnecessarily uncomfortable, annoyed by equipment sounds, or be exposed to irritating or harmful particles in the air.

The Role of Ventilation
The Lawrence Berkeley Lab has reported, “An estimated 23% of offices have dampness or mold.” The Lab goes on to state that a 30% reduction of dampness and mold plus improved particle filtration in offices would result in significant gains in occupant health and attendance and, of course, worker production.

The HVAC system can spread mold that’s been growing in drip pans, ductwork, coils, and humidifiers plus spread dust or debris in ductwork. Furthermore, within the ductwork system, some fire and smoke dampers may be dysfunctional--putting occupants’ lives and property at high risk. Such dampers, placed throughout HVAC ductwork, are designed to mitigate the spread of toxic smoke and deadly fire. Hence, the importance of professional examination and adjusting.

Building owners, managers or general contractors can be selective in choosing a testing agency that provides technical expertise in all of the areas of concern for their tenants.

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Remediation of IAQ Problems
“The root cause of poor indoor air quality is improper ventilation rate,” maintains Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant Jim Kelleher of Metro Test and Balance, Inc.

It is common for remediation to entail installation of new ductwork, cleaning existing ductwork, replacement of fans and other components of ventilation systems, testing and balancing of HVAC equipment, and replacing filters.

Relying on facility employees to periodically check ventilation rates is likely to result in missed identification of problems and missed solutions. Uninformed employees can even cause problems by actions such as closing dampers to outside air. Annually engaging outside experts who know the industry standards, like ASHRAE 62.1 (ventilation rates), is relatively inexpensive and a smart preventive measure, reiterates Kelleher.

The potential fallout from poor IAQ includes loss of productivity due to the effects of a stale and/or contaminated environment, loss of tenants and even a lawsuit. A benefit of annually engaging an outside, certified expert to identify and solve air quality problems is self-protection as well as prevention of harm to occupants. If a building owner is sued by an occupant over poor IAQ having caused or exacerbated a health condition, there will be no finding of conflict of interest.

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