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10 Essential Tips to Enhance Air Quality in Commercial Offices

Lange Mechanical Based in Houston TX
  • Nestor Vazquez
  • Indoor Air Quality

Breathing clean, healthy air is critical for wellbeing and productivity. Yet many commercial offices have poor indoor air quality (IAQ) that impacts workers’ health and performance. Studies show that improved air quality increases productivity by 8-11%.

This guide outlines 10 tips that facilities managers and business owners can implement to enhance IAQ in offices. Proper air quality controls will lead to reduced absenteeism, happier staff, and higher company profits.


1. Inspect and Replace Air Filters Regularly

  • Air filters remove dust, pollen and other particles from the air
  • Dirty filters can restrict airflow and harbor pollutants
  • Check filters monthly and replace per manufacturer recommendations, usually every 3-6 months

Replacing air filters is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep office air clean. Be sure to use the proper size and MERV rating for your office’s HVAC system.

Hire an indoor air quality professional to conduct periodic IAQ evaluations. They should measure pollutants like mold, bacteria, allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter levels. This data will establish a baseline to compare future test results.

The EPA’s IAQ Building Education and Assessment Model (I-BEAM) is an excellent air quality auditing software you can use. These assessments will reveal problem areas you should address.

2. Improve Ventilation Systems

Most commercial buildings recirculate some indoor air to save energy. However, a lack of adequate ventilation allows pollutants to accumulate. Increase outdoor air intake via your HVAC system to dilute contaminants.

Installing high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters also improves air purification. Ensure your ventilation runs 3 hours before and after occupancy per LEED standards. It maintains air quality during low or no occupancy periods.

3. Schedule Regular Commercial HVAC Maintenance

  • Failure to properly maintain an HVAC system causes poor ventilation
  • Experts recommend inspecting commercial units at least twice a year
  • Tasks include cleaning, repairs, coil brushing, checking refrigerant levels

Preventive maintenance helps ensure your heating and cooling equipment runs efficiently. Keep the office comfortable while optimizing indoor air quality.

4. Monitor Relative Humidity Levels

  • Ideal indoor relative humidity level is 30% to 50%
  • Low humidity allows particles to become airborne more easily
  • High humidity encourages mold growth and dust mites

Excess moisture in offices causes mold/bacteria growth. Install hygrometers to track humidity levels throughout your office space. If needed, commercial humidification and dehumidification systems can regulate moisture for healthy IAQ. Also, promptly fix water intrusions, leaks, and flooding to limit excess moisture.

5. Introduce Fresh Air into the Office Regularly

  • People exhale carbon dioxide (CO2), causing poorer concentration as levels rise
  • Smart HVAC controls can activate ventilation fans when CO2 thresholds are met
  • Simply opening windows also boosts fresh air circulation if outdoor air quality is satisfactory

Letting in outdoor air exchanges stale internal air for better breathing. Target at least 15 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of outside air per occupant.

Limit chemical/VOC exposure by designating spaces for copy rooms, labs, chemical storage etc. Keep these isolated zones under negative pressure for containment. The rest of the office should be under positive pressure with 100% filtered, fresh air for healthier conditions.

6. Use Filters with Air Purifying Technology

Upgrade air filters to a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) 13 per LEED standards. MERV 13 filters remove smaller particles like mold spores and bacteria. Also, increase cleaning frequency using green certified products to eliminate dust and allergens.

  • Advanced HVAC filters, like HEPA and carbon, capture more fine particles
  • Germicidal UV light inside ductwork kills bacteria, viruses and mold spores
  • Bipolar ionization produces charged atoms that deactivate airborne contaminants

Specialized air cleaning systems provide extra protection by neutralizing pollutants that traditional filters miss. They are ideal for facilities prone to poor outdoor air quality.

7. Install Indoor Office Plants

Adding leafy green plants indoors naturally improves air quality. Plants absorb and filter out gaseous pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. They also trap particulate matter and increase humidity. Include many plants situated throughout office spaces.

  • Certain houseplants naturally filter toxins like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air
  • Spider plants, aloe vera, English ivy and peace lilies are excellent choices
  • Ensure plant soil does not harbor mold or introduce allergens

While not a complete solution alone, keeping live green plants helps passively clean some impurities from indoor air. They also add aesthetic appeal to office spaces.

7. Use Low-VOC Interior Paints and Furnishings

When renovating office spaces, use low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, adhesives, and fabrics to limit off-gassing indoor pollution. VOCs emitted from many conventional building materials and furnishings can irritate eyes, nose and throat.

By specifying sustainable no- and low-VOC options certified under green building standards, facilities managers can reduce airborne chemicals that deteriorate indoor air quality and ventilation. Choosing healthier construction products improves work environments.

8. Enforce a Smoke-Free Office Policy

State laws establish smoke-free public/workplace policies. Enact a 100% indoor smoking ban to protect air quality. Make your office building LEED compliant for better IAQ by disallowing smoking near entries and operable windows per LEED prerequisites. Offer designated outdoor smoking areas away from building entries and air intakes.

  • Secondhand smoke contains over 70 known carcinogens as well as lung irritants
  • Thirdhand smoke residue on surfaces also re-emits toxins into the surrounding air over time
  • Every US state now allows smoke-free regulations in private commercial spaces

Banning smoking first- and secondhand tobacco intake improves air purity. This includes nearby outdoor designated smoking zones.

9. Set Air Quality Standards for Janitorial Services

Educating staff is key for success. Share EPA guidance to minimize indoor pollution. Encourage habits like using green cleaning supplies, keeping spaces dust-free and reporting mold issues promptly. Emphasize that indoor air quality protects health and safety. Acknowledge staff members who offer suggestions or identify IAQ issues.

  • Chemical residues from harsh cleaning products linger and associate with health issues
  • Establish rules about only using green seal certified products
  • Require wet mopping when floors are cleaned to limit stirring of particles

Coordination with janitorial teams ensures consistent methods for maintaining good IAQ around the office. Reduce irritants introduced by staff handling contaminants off-site too.

10. Investigate Commercial Air Purification Systems

  • Advanced solutions supplement ventilation for extra air filtration:
    • Portable room air cleaners
    • Whole-building air scrubbers
    • Bipolar ionization units
    • Photocatalytic oxidation systems
  • Consult an HVAC specialist to identify the best option for your office setup

In environments where outdoor air quality is poor or indoor pollution levels are high, additional air treatment can significantly improve the atmosphere. Reach out to Lange Mechanical to assess your air quality concerns and develop an effective solution.

With a commitment to excellence since 1981, Lange Mechanical has been the go-to commercial HVAC service and installation company in Houston, TX, specializing in creating healthier, more efficient indoor environments across a variety of sectors including office buildings, medical facilities, retail centers, and more in the Greater Houston area.

You can reach us by phone at (713) 688-3861 for professional advice and services tailored to your needs.