Since COVID-19, there has been a heightened awareness of how easily germs can spread throughout the air. With guidance from the CDC, government orders, employer requirements, or school policies, organizations have implemented protective measures like facial coverings, increased sanitization, and social distancing to keep germs away.
For many, it took a global pandemic to raise serious concerns over building occupants’ health and well-being. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air within buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Sources of indoor air pollution include deteriorated building materials and furnishings, asbestos-containing ﬂooring or insulation, wet or damp carpeting, cabinetry, or furniture made of certain pressed wood products, or products for cleaning and maintenance.
A common cause of indoor air quality concerns is an underperforming HVAC system. While intended to add comfort to your building, aging or failing systems may be harming your occupants. Even new systems can underperform in keeping people safe, healthy, and happy during unprecedented times (like these) for which they were not designed.
Today, advanced building systems such as bipolar ionization exist to provide safer, cleaner indoor air. As simpliﬁed by C.D. Smith Project Manager Kalvin Sabel, a bipolar ionization system causes smaller microbes like bacteria to bond to each other or other particles, creating a larger cluster that is easier for standard air ﬁlters to capture. Though these systems exist, guidelines from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommend a minimum air quality standard to preserve occupant health, safety, and well-being. When selecting a system, the minimum requirement often is met, not exceeded, due to cost limitations or a lack of understanding of the long-term value of improved systems.
The EPA reports that good indoor air quality enhances occupant health, comfort, and productivity. During a study of ofﬁce workers, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found an eight percentile increase in decision-making performance when ventilation was increased. More and more, you see buildings being designed to exceed minimum standards. Building certiﬁcations like LEED and WELL typically require air quality monitoring and increased levels of fresh outside air. In addition to improved productivity, advantages to improved building systems include:
• Cleaner, safer spaces: An improved HVAC system may limit the spread of viruses and reduce airborne mold spores.
• Budget savings: Upgrading to efﬁcient systems and performing preventive maintenance will save on your operational budget.
• The identiﬁcation of warning signs: Monitoring your HVAC system allows you to identify early warning signs and avoid costly unexpected repairs.
If you would like more information on an indoor air quality assessment, contact us. We will help you understand and prioritize your building needs.
Author: Emily Smith
Article: "What's in Your Air" as featured in
May 2021 digital issue of In Business magazine.
In Business magazine, a business-to-business publication in the Greater Madison region published its most recent May 2021 issue featuring post-pandemic office insights from three panelists, including C.D. Smith Construction's SVP of Strategic Development and Marketing, Holly Brenner. Reference Holly's Q&A responses by clicking to the full Beneath the Hard Hat® blog post.
Our commitment to holistically enhancing the current and future environmental, economic and societal well-being of the communities in which we live, work and play in begins with education. We have a team devoted to understanding the difference between green building and a sustainable built environment. Our team will help you weigh the financial and business impacts of building green, through a sustainable approach, to make the most informed decisions. Join us in our commitment to
We are proud of the sustainable design and construction that went into our new headquarters. Key sustainable features include:
Atop of our new headquarters sits a 94kW ballasted, solar photovoltaic system. The system features five SolarEdge Technologies Inc. inverters and (294) REC Group 320w modules. It is projected to offset an estimated up to 39.1% of our electric energy consumption. That’s saving over 93 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year!
Floor to ceiling, energy-efficient windows throughout the C.D. Smtih headquarters optimize daylight to reduce energy consumption by offsetting the amount of electricity lightly needed to properly light spaces in the building.
Tracking and metering of systems allow for decreased operating costs, enhanced system performance, energy savings, increased comfort and overall increased control of building infrastructure.
Reusable cups are located in cafes. Recycling Stations are located throughout the building along with bottle filling stations. Office employees are making a valiant effort to go paperless.
As a part of our green initiatives, C.D. Smith is practicing sustainable landscaping. Native planting takes two to three years to develop and requires maintenance for the plants to successfully establish. Maintenance may include mowing, weed management, and prescribed burning. The land surrounding the building will look different throughout the season and every year.
Through a proactive safety program, strict standards and our “Think Safe. Work Safe.” campaign, we have built a solid culture where safety is our number one priority day in and day out.
C.D. Smith supports many local organizations through sponsorship programs and monetary donations in our community and in the communities with which we work. In the past 10 years, we have donated over $4 million to businesses and organizations throughout the state of Wisconsin, from small community clubs to large non-profit organizations.
Building community is the foundation of our organization. By supporting community initiatives, economic growth and development, we feel privileged to help ensure our team members have solid places to live, work, volunteer, serve and play.