Workplace sensors help to get the job done

Written by: Alberto Brioso

Healthy workplaces with optimal temperature and air quality can boost productivity. A 2014 study published by the National Center for Biotechnical Information measured a 38.56% impact on job performance as a result of temperature extremes.

In commercial and office buildings, sensors help ensure comfort and safety within the environment.

Here is how they boost workplace wellness:

Providing safety

Smoke detectors are required in most commercial buildings because they save lives! Among the common building code requirements, the sensors must be powered through building wiring with a battery backup. They are tagged with the dates of the most recent maintenance and when backup batteries were replaced.

Carbon Monoxide presents a risk wherever fossil fuels are burned. That includes boilers, as wells as stoves and fryers in many commercial kitchens. Also, CO detectors must be installed if vehicles run in an attached garage or warehouse. Several states require them in all commercial lodgings.

Maintaining or monitoring temperature

 

The thermostats that control Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are the most familiar but the sensors can have other purposes as well. In certain industrial spaces, warehouses, tool sheds, and other areas lacking HVAC equipment, the sensors may warn of extremes when portable heat or cooling fans can save inventory or plant production.

 

Replacing stale air

Even at an ideal temperature, stale air hinders concentration by triggering headaches and sleepiness. Extreme CO2 concentrations above 40,000 parts per million (ppm) can cause brain damage, and even be fatal. Occupied Indoor spaces will typically have 350 – 1,000ppm.

If office air seems stale or worker health seems affected, an initial assessment may determine if CO2 sensors should be installed. CO2 monitors and meters may be wired, wireless, or handheld. Some, integral to HVAC components, may control the fresh outdoor air being supplied to the system.

Controlling humidity

At different temperatures, excess humidity in an office environment brings chills or perspiration, guaranteeing complaints in any season. Relative humidity sensors are most common in industrial and commercial applications. They remain reliable even at high temperatures and when condensation or chemical vapors have occurred. Available solutions include hand-held hygrometers for occasional assessment to wall-mounted or duct-mounted transmitters.

HVAC systems are designed for heating and cooling, not for efficiently controlling humidity. Relative humidity sensors should control dehumidification systems, not HVAC, which can cool the air too much while removing humidity from it.

If not required for fire and smoke detection, sensors can be installed without wiring. Batteries can supply the power for months, and readings can be transmitted via wi-fi.

The minor expense and simple installation can pay dividends. In its Office Building Occupants Guide to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), the EPA reports that improved IAQ brings improved productivity along with fewer lost work days. The agency advises that poor indoor air could cost tens of billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and medical care.

How’s the IAQ at your workplace? Contact ecoPreserve if we may provide further information or an assessment. Thank you!

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AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

Tools tailored to location and need

Disaster resilience requires a select toolset, identified, adapted, or created as needed based on planning calls and inclusive workshop participation.

Business and government organizations today are confronted by threat categories that range from drought to flood, from fire to hurricane, and extend globally to pandemics and sea level rise. Threat categories are broad and diverse, but ecoPreserve and collaborating organizations design resiliency tools for specific local context.

Local needs are identified and verified. Building from that essential understanding, tools are designed, tested in pilot programs, refined, then implemented through action plans.

Today's challenges/
tomorrow's potential

ecoPreserve collaborates with major community and private organizations in optimizing the resiliency and resource efficiency of their workplaces, venues, and public spaces.

In response to ever-increasing environmental, sociopolitical, and public health challenges, we advocate for and participate in assessment and planning actions that directly address disaster preparations, recovery activities, infrastructure improvements, and smart building/city design.

Online and in-person workshops

ecoPreserve designs and leads workshops in varied formats, to achieve varied goals.

Often an event is held for skill and knowledge development, but some needs of an organization or community are better resolved through collaboration to identify requirements and to design solutions. A range of Disaster Resilience workshops are available for solutions planning and development, as well as for training and communication.

Disaster Planning and Recovery Workshops

  • Identify technical and business process gaps
  • Define stakeholders, recovery teams, and processes/functionalities necessary for operation
  • Highlight missed expectations from a data loss and recovery time perspective
  • Address compliance with regulatory agencies and industry standards
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.