According to health specialists, a 5-10% productivity loss can be attributed to poor indoor climate in the workplace.
In this article, we will outline the key workplace indoor climate parameters, their causes and effects, and what readings to look out for when monitoring your building.
Indoor temperature should range between 21-23°C during the heating period and between 23.5-25.5°C during the cooling period. These are the optimal temperature ranges for work environment.
Relative humidity during the heating period should stay above 20%.
Optimal year-round humidity is 40-60%. Humidity over 70% affects human health negatively by amplifying the negative properties of too high and low temperatures. High humidity can also create a growth environment for harmful fungi.
Humidity below 30% also causes discomfort through the irritation of eye and nose mucosa. Dryness of the mucosa can increase the rate of virus transmission.
According to work safety organisations worldwide, the absolute maximum level of CO₂ during an 8-hour shift is 5000 parts per million (ppm).
In most work environments, CO2 is only produced by the people inside the room. This means CO2 measurements are also a good indicator for the likelihood of virus transmission.
WHO recommended level is under 1000 ppm, as concentrations above this are associated with drowsiness, poor concentration and nausea. For this reason, rooms where mentally demanding work is done must be ventilated properly.
Rooms with high human density (<3m² of floor space per person) should have their CO₂ level under 950 ppm. Rooms with normal human density should remain below 750 ppm.
The recommended lighting level in indoor work spaces depends on the nature of work.
For regular office spaces where people work with computers, 250-500 lux is recommended, whereas offices where high-precision work takes place (e.g.drawing offices) may require illumination of 1000-2000 lux.
Administrative work can be done in an environment where the lighting level is between 250-300 lux.
According to the official recommendations, noise level should not exceed 85 db in any workspace and keeping it under 80 db is highly recommended.
In practice, noise level should not exceed 55 db in work spaces where mental work is done. Anything above that can negatively impact workers’ ability to concentrate on their tasks.
Volatile Organic Compounds – VOCs
In new buildings, most VOCs are attributable to off-gassing from construction materials such as vinyl flooring and paints.
On the other hand, in older buildings the main sources of VOCs are urban pollution from unfiltered air, perfumes and other odors.
While a small amount of VOCs is what gives the building a scent - pleasant or otherwise, large VOC concentrations can trigger allergies, mucosa irritation and cause cancers.
Level of VOCs in indoor work environment should ideally stay below <0,5 mg/m³. A total VOC level higher than 1 mg/m³ is already a serious concern and action should be taken to filter or to neutralize the VOCs.
Particulate matter levels - PM
Fine particulate matter is an air pollutant category that includes small pieces of soot created in combustion processes (from cigarettes, cars, bonfires) and small pieces of dust, such as fine sand, asphalt, flour or skin particles.
If these particles are fine enough, they can enter deep into lung tissue, causing a issues ranging from asthma to cancer.
According to WHO guidelines the safe levels for long-term exposure are <10 μg/m³ for PM2.5 (particles with diameters below 2,5 micrometers) and <20 μg/m³ for PM10 (particles with diameters below 10 micrometers).
The biggest assets in each workplace are the people working within, since 85% of an office building's lifetime cost goes towards payroll.
As such, tenant complaints about indoor climate may seem abstract and unimportant to some, but in reality our work environment is a key driver of productivity and well-being.
For this reason, Calidity has integrated a variety of indoor climate monitoring and control methods to it's software. This way, we can keep your buildings both healthy and energy efficient.