It starts small: a headache, a runny nose. And before you know it, you’re sick. But for some, it becomes a cycle of getting better/getting sick, over and over again.
You may not have the latest flu bug circulating through the masses. Instead, you may have a problem that is growing throughout the working population; its known as sick building syndrome (SBS). And its usually found in buildings that use out of date construction materials, are still using old technology, or have poor ventilation.
SBS is used to describe a situation where building occupants begin experiencing acute health problems, and it is determined that they are linked from spending time within the building itself. While its difficult to pinpoint what causes SBS, it has been linked to the problem of off-gassing, which occurs when building materials release high amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.
In many cases, off-gassing is exacerbated by poor ventilation. If the ventilation system doesn’t work efficiently, gases build up to the point where they begin impacting the workers inside the building.
This problem has been recognized in the past, and is just one of the reasons many building owners began looking for alternatives. Enter the LEED certified building.
LEED stands for green building leadership. LEED is a green building certification program that designs, constructs and maintains certified buildings across the globe. Through third party certification, it verifies that a project is designed, built and operated in a way that will conserve energy, reduce water consumption, improve indoor air quality, and save money and energy overall. To have a LEED certified building not only costs less to operate, it can also attract tenants as well.
The LEED program is not new. And like every form of technology, new developments are found every day. As time has passed, old LEED certified components have been found to have their problems. Even an environmentally sound and locally sourced material can change during manufacturing, installing, and overall use. And when used with standards that date back five years or more, risk potential can arise.
LEED has recently introduced a new set of standards, version 4. This version will be more specialized and designed for a better user experience. It will place more emphasis on gaining a better understanding of what materials are used in a building and their ultimate effect on human health and the environment. It will approach indoor environmental quality from a more performance based standpoint. It will bring smart grid thinking to the forefront for better control.
As a commercial HVAC contractor, we realize the importance of having an efficient HVAC system in place; one that not only helps regulate the temperature of your environment, but plays a role in reducing harmful off-gassing and SBS symptoms as well.
If you have any questions about how to improve your current ventilation system, we’d be happy to provide you with answers that can truly make a difference to you and your building’s occupants.