Roei Friedberg is CEO of Aura Americas, the air purification company offering solutions that make air clean and safe.
In March, the Biden Administration released its updated plan for addressing Covid-19. The goal of the new plan is to help Americans return to a sense of normalcy while continuously fighting Covid-19 and any new variant that might emerge. One aspect of the President’s plan is the “Clean Air in Buildings Challenge,” a call for building managers, owners, operators and leaders to implement best practices that improve ventilation and air quality in buildings.
Air quality had a significant impact on students and workers even before the pandemic. Better ventilation has been linked to better test scores and fewer absences from school. And, as one well-known Harvard study demonstrated, sick leave increased among employees in areas with poor ventilation. The “findings suggest that net savings of $400 per employee per year may be obtained with increased ventilation.”
How can company owners meet this challenge and protect their staff and customers? My company provides air purification solutions for businesses, and applying the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for maintaining a healthy indoor air environment can be an excellent place to start.
Some additional tips I recommend keeping in mind include:
1. Do your research.
Like any important project, planning a long-term strategy starts with comprehensive research. To learn how to improve your space’s air quality, research should include outlining your current HVAC systems, consulting with air quality experts on your existing indoor air quality (known as “IAQ”), and performing different assessment approaches such as using monitors to detect carbon dioxide and other airborne particle levels as necessary.
2. Make a plan.
Conducting this research will help you create an action plan to improve your indoor air quality and ensure its stability. The plan should include regular inspections and maintenance, such as cleaning and replacing filters, as well as upgrading or improving HVAC and air filtration equipment.
3. Educate your employees—and yourself.
It’s essential to invest in your employees by creating awareness and educating them about air quality and how they can improve it. You can also invest in education for yourself. New public health programs for business leaders, such as the one offered by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, are emerging as valuable tools. “While public health was often siloed into human resources or government affairs departments, we are seeing firsthand that COVID-19 has pushed the public health discourse into the C-suite,” Michelle Williams, Dean of the Faculty at Harvard Chan School, said in a press release about the program.
4. Optimize fresh air ventilation.
This is the next key factor you should consider after creating a solid plan. Make sure to properly ventilate spaces by opening windows if outdoor air quality and weather conditions allow. It might also be worthwhile to run the HVAC system before arrival and at the end of the day.
Using efficient air management systems to improve air quality and reduce the need for airflow changes can make this solution more energy efficient. Using a central HVAC system and in-room air-cleaning devices to improve air filtration and cleaning may help as well.
5. Determine which solutions fit your workspace.
It’s also crucial to check your workspace features before choosing the right air purification solution for your company. (Full disclosure: My company provides air-purification solutions, as do others.) Among the key features to inspect are room size, placement and the number of people working in the space.
By taking a hands-on approach to air quality, business leaders could see many benefits. These could include preventing a financial loss in revenue, increasing productivity and, in turn, promoting business growth.