From the Field
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Respecting Workers Demands a Commitment to IAQ

A company that demonstrates a commitment to the quality of air its employees breathe stands a greater chance of retaining top talent. HVAC filters can help.

By DAVID HEACOCK, CEO, FilterBuy

How successful would any company be without its star talent? Every day, there’s an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to the people who make a business really shine.

Going that extra distance can really pay off in employee retention, a huge challenge given that more than 40 percent of employers, globally, struggle with a talent shortage, according to Manpower Group. Adding to the problem: Millennials, the largest generation in the US workforce, change jobs as easily as clothes. A Gallup survey confirms that 60 percent of them are always open to a move.

So, what are the most meaningful benefits that will keep top performers close to a company, across the generations? One of the most important wellness offerings a company can give is a commitment to everyone's health and comfort. That includes maintaining good indoor air quality, and continually "scrubbing" the air of common allergens and dust. Simple measures can help people feel and perform much better.

These measures are not just "nice to have". The costs of not implementing them are surprisingly high. Consider:

  • U.S. companies lose more than $250 million per year due to missed work and decreased productivity from allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology;
  • The World Health Organization states that 11 percent of asthma worldwide is caused by gases, dust or fumes in the workplace. 

Companies are getting the message that it's time to take action and help employees breathe better. Efforts by major government and nonprofit organizations, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) are opening everyone's eyes to why our indoor air should be a healthcare priority. They're not only addressing measures for removing dust and pollen; they're also paying attention to indoor contaminants like formaldehyde and VOCs that are implicated in heart disease, cancer and more.

Businesses are hearing these messages loud and clear. There are examples in the news every day of major companies that have made indoor air quality (IAQ) a priority. For example, 4 Times Square (formerly called the Condé Nast building) in New York City implemented an effective system to sustain high IAQ while minimizing energy expense. Additionally, the Park Place Buildings in Irvine, CA, a 1.8-million-sq-ft, mixed-use development, proactively tests and monitors IAQ and provides a green office environment.

Park Place in Irvine CA bills itself as both the modern workplace and Orange County's premiere mixed-use office campus.

What simple changes can be made to give employees the air quality they deserve?

Start with a look at the HVAC system and how often the HVAC filters are being changed. These filters remove dust, pollen, and other allergens. Even air purifiers can only remove so much dust if their filters are sitting, month after month, black with dirt. 

Here are ways to ensure your filters are working optimally:

  • Measure them precisely: A filter that is too small will let damaging particles into the air stream, while one that is too large will impede airflow;
  • Look for high ratings, but don’t go overboard: A standard performance rating system is MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value), which is based on a filter’s thickness. Resist the temptation to go for the highest number without some advance research; it could burn out your system;
  • Step up the frequency of inspections: Even if you’re changing your filters every few months, you may find excess dust blocking your airflow. Be particularly careful during peak heating and cooling season, when you want to maximize the performance of your HVAC equipment;
  • More depth, fewer changes: Filters with more surface area can absorb more particles, and as a result need to be changed less often. Just ensure that they won’t overtax the system you have;
  • Look for measures of strength: For instance, filters that only have frames on one side will not be as durable as those with a second frame;
  • Plan ahead: HVAC equipment changes fast, and that means “standard” filter sizes change quickly too. You may need to have filters custom manufactured, and don’t want to come up short due to long production or delivery times. Web research will enable you to find suppliers who carry more “obscure” frames, or who can custom manufacture and deliver them within a few days without a commensurate price increase.

FilterBuy. Custom Filters. How they're made. from FilterBuy on Vimeo.

There are other technologies that can be used to build on the use of filters. Tapping into the cloud and/or the Internet of Things, these solutions monitor contaminants (such as CO2 and VOCs) in the air and "scrub" them out. There are a broad range of innovations for entrepreneurs to investigate, from ionization technologies to energy recovery ventilation products. These solutions help buildings save energy, as well.

Employees' health is precious. These individuals are giving their time, their best thinking and their passion. Make sure that when they are at work, you are doing everything possible to ensure their good health--starting with the best possible indoor air quality. 

Based in Talladega AL, the author is founder and CEO of FilterBuy, a U.S. manufacturer of custom HVAC air filters, furnace filters, and industrial filters, sold directly to businesses and consumers via subscriptions or on a spot basis. For more information, please visit filterbuy.com

 

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