Office Study – Tapping Into The Real World Air Quality Data

Nowadays, it is a privilege to have access to a real indoor environment where you can measure and quantify indoor environmental quality (IEQ). It is not an easy task because most companies keep AQ data private, and we totally respect that. However, sometimes tapping into the real world data is fundamental in order to understand the conditions white color employees and employers work in an effort to improve work conditions and productivity.

The owner of the building and the office granted me access to installing the Atmocube IAQ monitor for two months, in order to figure out what improvements shall apply in their effort to mitigate covid19, improve working conditions and boost productivity. The office is located in Almeria, Spain which is a coastal city.

They don’t have any mechanical ventilation systems, so the indoor conditions were subject to their human actions and whether they opened the windows/doors or not.

CO2

From Monday to Friday CO2 levels were high. Reaching a maximum of 2914 ppm and with an average value of 1026 ppm. Just for reference, CO2 levels above 1000 ppm are considered high which is also indicated by the Atmocube rating system. It’s quite high for a 40sqm/430sqf office which is occupied by only two people. Tuesdays were the worst and I guess it has to do with the fact the clients reached the office. The windows of the office cannot be opened and in order for fresh air to come in they have to open the main door.

Once the employees are inside the office CO2 levels rise and will fall only once they leave for launch and the end of the labor day.

PM2.5

Particulate matter levels were very good during the two-month trial with an average concentration of 4.4 μg/m3, but every Wednesday concentrations sky-rocked with values as high as 910 μg/m3. I guess someone was visiting and smoking during that time in the office. It turns out it was the humidifier as they used tap water which is full of minerals and impurities due to desalination.

VOC & CH2O

Once more Wednesday was a bad day for indoor air quality. Perfumes inside the humidifier, the printer (photocopier) and cleaning products are among the most suspicious. Ventilation and purification is the key for an optimal IAQ.

Temperature, Humidity, Light, and Noise

The variation of temperature was organic and with an average value of 19.5ºC/67.1ºF. One of the employees was always wearing a t-shirt so I guess he was comfortable. On the other hand, the humidity was always high surpassing 75% and with an average value of around 64%. They had an ultrasonic humidifier for some reason installed. Light conditions were poor after 18:00 but plenty during the day, the monitor registered the temperature of the light so I can understand when they used office lights (cloudy days) vs natural sun light. Finally, the noise was not an issue as the monitor registered levels between 30-45 dB which are classified as a quiet room or library.

Conclusion

By taking into consideration all the available IEQ parameters (thanks to the right indoor air quality monitor) we can conclude that their effort to keep the working space optimal for health and productivity was minimum and incorrect. CO2 levels were always high which means they need to install a type of HVR/ERV and they have to stop using the humidifier with or without tap water and perfumes. Humidity is high as we live in a coastal city. I wish I had more data for a longer period because seasons and other parameters play a role in indoor air quality.

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