What do we breathe in offices, classrooms ?

The past two years have been full of challenges and transformation. We moved from commuting every day to staying mainly home. The businesses that have maintained some level of activity in central offices have become more focussed on ventilation, air quality and air pollution.

Private and government offices have quickly learnt that just turning up the HVAC system is not always the answer. As a matter of fact, recycling air through older filters full of particulate matter is quite detrimental. We have always known that air impacts our work. However, in the new era of rolling yearly challenges this has become a very visible and extremely important fact.

Air quality impacts human health, that is a given. Air quality and freshness impacts productivity. Nothing new here. But how do you balance over using ventilation with what is a healthy environment ? Once could simply run the ventilation system on fresh intake 16 hours a day. This would bring fresh air inside and keep the atmosphere clean. How does that impact the power bill and the maintenance expense ? We are not talking people versus profit or cost. In fact, a well managed operational cost will support more people in employment so the impact of restrictions and market fluctuations will be less.

Everything we install in offices emanates fumes (VOC – volatile organic compounds) and people working together breathe out CO2. This is not new information and this why we have put in place ventilation systems. But do we use these systems the right way ? Or are they just a tick box for building codes ? Are they expensive to run on a daily basis ?

How do we know how healthy our air is ?

The first step is to understand the current conditions. SimplyCity’s air quality solutions cover both indoor as well as outdoor solutions. Let us start  and focus for now on CO2. In our rooms and offices CO2 levels impact our lives in a very tangible way.

Above normal levels of CO2 will cause:

  • drowsiness
  • headaches
  • lack of focus
  • nausea

Below is a quick overview of the various levels and their impact on human cognitive functions:


CO2 and the “boring meeting” effect

It is not uncommon to go into a meeting , sales meeting or team building meeting and, after a while, to feel that the event is extremely boring and you find yourself sleepy. This is more often linked to the CO2 build-up in the area. A closed room with 20-30 people can quickly fill up with high levels of CO2 and this causes this “boring meeting” effect. The subject discussed is quite often interesting but the effect of the surrounding atmosphere on our brain is quite serious.

Opening windows and taking brakes are some of the measures that should be implemented. But all these are often forgotten in the heat of the discussions.

In general, one of the simplest ways is to use an easy-to-deploy and very inexpensive CO2 monitoring and notification system. The sensors constantly monitor CO2 levels and other VOC (volatile organic compounds). The solution sends a notification to a designated person and can even directly open automated louvres or windows or start extractor fans. To achieve this, SimplyCity has put together a simple package which will monitor and notify a designated person when CO2 levels have been exceeded.

The impact of CO2 and other elements in the world of COVID-19 and other pathogens

It is not surprising that COVID-19 finds a place in this discussion. After all, it is one of those pathogens, along side the flu, colds, and others, that spreads through particles lingering in the air. Monitoring air for specific viruses is possible but it prohibitively expensive on a normal set up such as a school, office building, etc.

One of the easiest measurements is by proxy and CO2 is an ideal gas to look for. The math is very simple. The more people occupy a space and the longer they occupy this space, the higher the CO2 concentration will be. This is an indication of poor ventilation and, thus, a heightened risk of transmissibility of various diseases.

Therefore it is logic that if we monitor the variation of CO2 concentration we can determine if the ventilation system is working in an optimal way or if it needs adjustments.

One of the key elements of IoT based monitoring is that equipment can be located permanently or temporarily in a room. This reduces the capital expense. For example 50 such CO2 sensors can be used to monitor the air quality in 200 rooms by shifting them from one place to another once measurements have taken place.

Can we do more for our people ? Is this expensive or complicated  ?

It is relatively easy to look after the wellbeing of the teams and maintain a healthy and productive environment. When it comes to CO2 and its impact, there are solutions. CO2 monitoring is one. Collecting the CO2 data and using it to adjust the efficiency and performance of the ventilation systems is easy.

SimplyCity’s CO2 and VOC monitoring solutions have direct impact on performance improvement. The SimplyControl platform will collect the data, store it, use it to display historical, trends and also send notifications.  Furthermore, SimplyControl can interact with the BMS or HVAC system to drive ventilation based on real measurements and not only timers. Whether is via BacNET, Modbus485, Modbus IP or low level control, the platform is fully capable of monitoring, controlling and maintaining a healthy environment.

Enhancing the quality of the work environment does not have to be very complicated or expensive. The solution has to be well designed and allow people to work in the best air we can provide.

SimplyCity Australia offers full packaged solutions as well as custom designed systems for better work environments.