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It's the 'sniffle' time of year so we revisit this piece from Premises & Facilities Management editor, Dennis Flower, who looks at the role HVAC can play in improving comfort

There has been a notable increase in the amount of attention paid to the topic of indoor air quality (IAQ) over the last few years and this has considerable potential to continue to grow in the future, particularly when this is linked to workplace wellbeing.

There are, of course, numerous areas where HVAC systems can play an important role in improving IAQ levels, ranging from upgrading filters – or just ensuring these are changed regularly – to the installation of sophisticated MVHR systems to ensure that each workplace receives a constant flow of fresh air while maintaining or improving comfort levels.

Working at a consistently high level is difficult if work areas are too stuffy

Dennis Flower PfM Dennis Flower Editor of PfM magazine

Impacting productivity

Placing more emphasis on adopting effective planned and preventative maintenance (PPM) regimes can also help to ensure that the IAQ levels within each workplace are maintained at a high level and continue to provide a healthy working environment throughout the year, but especially over the winter months when viruses tend to spread quickly from person to person and can have a significant impact on productivity levels.

Another element to consider within this is that all members of staff will find it difficult to continue to work at a consistently high level if their working area is too stuffy, which should never be an issue if the HVAC PPM routine has been established with this in mind.

Duty of care

While it’s unlikely that FMs or maintenance teams will have sufficient resources to carry out regular IAQ tests, this is another factor to consider, particularly on a ‘before and after’ basis when installing new systems or PPM regimes, in order to prove the effectiveness of the project or identify areas within the workplace where further action is required.

In addition to ensuring the creation of a healthier working environment, delivering improved levels of IAQ can also be used as further evidence of an employer’s determination to provide exemplary duty of care benefits and further assist the drive to make their company an attractive place to work.

Dennis Flower is editor of Premises & Facilities Management