Changes In Outdoor Air Demands Cleaner Air for Buildings
As facilities managers work overtime to support rapid decarbonization, a major crisis is looming: a changing climate that is becoming increasingly more inhospitable. Former NASA climate scientist James Hansen recently warned that things will get worse before they get better.
Climate change is causing more extreme weather events, rising sea levels and other disruptions to communities around the world. Buildings of all types, all sizes and in every part of the world will now face numerous new, unanticipated pressures, sometimes with devastating effects to property, but also to health, putting lives at risk.
With the recent Canadian wildfire smoke making its way down into the U.S., over a dozen U.S. states have issued some form of air quality alert. Smoke from these fires can increase pollutants in the air, like particulate matter, and affect people with respiratory conditions making breathing more difficult.
The Solution: Focus on Indoor Air Quality
One of the most influential approaches to protecting our health is monitoring our indoor environment by implementing the appropriate measures to enhance indoor air quality. Adopting a comprehensive approach to healthy buildings is essential to account for the multifaceted health risks posed by poor building maintenance, and moreover, the effects of climate change.
Buildings play an integral role in supporting health and safeguarding against climate-related impacts, including enhancing indoor air quality, prioritizing health-resilience focus areas such as IAQ monitoring, water quality and management, thermal comfort, emergency planning, integrative design, healthy and sustainable materials, energy savings, healthy lighting environments, and food security.
The International WELL Building Institute, the leading authority on healthy buildings, details 25 strategies across 14 features in the Air Concept to enhance indoor air quality across a building’s lifetime, but facility managers don’t focus nearly enough on the mounting necessity for safer and healthier buildings.
The first step on this critical path to climate resilience is to prioritize solutions for air quality in buildings, where people spend 90% of their lives.
Energy Demand is Going Up
In a recent Washington Post article, the spotlight was turned to Phoenix, which is likely to reach an average monthly temperature higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to this new average of extreme temperatures, are buildings in Phoenix – homes, schools, offices, hospitals, and stores – ready to hold up for this level of heat?
Energy demand is going up as an effect of what’s happening right now. Climate variability and changes in weather patterns can also affect energy consumption in buildings, leading to an increase in energy demand. The impact of climate change on energy consumption in buildings is also significant, with changes in weather patterns leading to increased cooling energy demand and decreased heating energy demand. These trends highlight the urgent need for energy savings technologies to monitor and optimize energy waste reduction.
The message is clear: more adverse weather is set to pummel some of our environments and buildings, and this will invariably come with its cascading health risks for the people inside. Facility managers must take action quickly and collaboratively to fortify our buildings for health and safety. Focusing on IAQ and energy savings technologies is at the forefront of helping us all breathe better, cleaner, safer air.