Preventing Sick Building Syndrome with Natural Ventilation

Good building design relies on natural ventilation to create a healthy home or workplace. In recent years, and especially since the onset of the global pandemic, companies have increasingly prioritized well-ventilated spaces and indoor air quality to keep their employees and customers healthy.

Employee well-being is an important aspect of a successful business. Staff who miss work due to illness can cost the company dearly in terms of productivity, revenue and morale. As a responsible employer, it is your duty to ensure that they are safe, healthy and happy in an optimal environment. One way to do this is to make sure you avoid sick building syndrome.

What is sick building syndrome?

Sick building syndrome, also known as SBS, is a condition in which building occupants experience a level of illness and/or discomfort. Although the exact cause is unknown, evidence suggests that it can be from sharing a small, poorly ventilated space, working with chemicals in a closed environment, improper cleaning and also the use of cleaning materials. shoddy construction.

Symptoms of SBS can range from headaches, cramps, sinus infection, dry cough, fatigue, swelling, and cancer, and can even lead to miscarriages in pregnant women. It is a controversial topic in the medical field as some researchers believe that the source of infection is internal, while others attribute it to external factors. Regardless of the debate, the evidence suggests it exists, although further testing is still being done.

Facts based on evidence

In 1984, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report suggesting that 30% of new and renovated buildings worldwide suffer from poor indoor air quality. A revised version was created in 2009, specifically for the healthcare industry. It examined infection control in an environment with natural ventilation, without and with mechanical ventilation.

One of the findings stated that “lack of ventilation or low ventilation rates are associated with increased infection rates or outbreaks of airborne diseases”. This can be applied to all companies in the event of an epidemic or general illness in the working environment. Changing the airflow in the room is likely to help prevent infection, taking into account factors such as building space, use and airflow possibilities.

Fighting sick building syndrome

To help create a better working environment, it is recommended that you add natural ventilation to your building, or even consider mechanical ventilation. The initial setup can be expensive; however, not having it could be just as costly.

sick building

Depending on your type of building, you may want to consider adding roof ventilators or wall louvers. This can increase the optimized airflow in the building, leading to fewer sick days and illnesses in general. If you decide that natural ventilation is necessary for your building, make sure someone assesses your needs first.

Different businesses will require different airflow changes within an hour. Variable factors such as heat, wind speed and the number of people in a room will also need to be considered. Thanks to 360° technology, you will be able to calculate this necessary rate for you using thermal imaging and taking into account ASHRAE standards.

Each company is unique, the evaluation will be too. Consult Airocle and have your building assessed by a team of specialist engineers, who will calculate the wind speed and direction and how to use the airflow around your building. Your employees will thank you in the long term for investing in their future and their health.

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