Construction Today - June 2017 - 101
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proved thermal and lighting comfort and indoor air quality directly
impact occupant satisfaction."
A recent joint study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public
Health, SUNY Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University
backs this up. Researchers found a strong relationship between green
office building design and the efficiency and wellbeing of workers,
who spend on average about 90,000 hours, or more than 10 years of
their lives, at the office. According to the Harvard study, office workers in green buildings scored 61 percent higher on cognitive tests
than workers in conventional buildings, and that number jumps to
101 percent for workers in green buildings with additional ventilation enhancements. As is standard in double blind scientific studies,
neither the workers nor test administrators knew how their air quality conditions were set that day when the experiment was conducted.
Alliance specializes in
high-end rental housing
geared to millennials.
Novak is building the latest addition to a growing
Clearing the Air
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks air quality as
a top five environmental risk to public health, and it remains an issue
today in many of our country's aging office buildings. The agency's
studies of human exposure to air pollutants reveals that indoor pollutants can often be two to five times higher than outdoor levels; and,
in some cases, more than 100 times.
The financial and operational consequences of poor indoor air
quality can be very costly for employers. Poor ventilation within
buildings can cause a buildup of airborne pollutants believed to
cause various illnesses, including headaches, coughing, fatigue and
nausea, which can lead to decreased worker productivity and higher
In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
estimates that lower productivity and increases in sick leave due to
poor indoor air quality costs U.S. employers a staggering $15 billion
annually, a tremendous concern for companies both large and small.
Depending on the building, a properly sized energy efficient HVAC
system can also shrink a company's energy consumption and boost
its sustainability rating while lowering utility costs by thousands
of dollars each year. In 2012 alone, the cost savings for businesses,
organizations and consumers across the country using Energy Star
certified products was $24 billion!
The U.S. Department of Energy and EPA introduced the voluntary
labeling program Energy Star in 1992, in order to identify and encourage the use of energy efficient products that reduce greenhouse
gas emissions. Since then, $362 billion has been saved in utility
bills and 2.5 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions have been
prevented from polluting the environment. An appropriately sized
HVAC system that has been expertly installed is a great start for every
building owner, but even the perfect system can become inefficient if
not continually and consistently serviced by skilled professionals.
Qualified union mechanical contractors
have the kind of experience and level of
technical expertise that can be critical to the
proper installation and maintenance of these
complex green systems. By adopting informed operating practices, including regular
proactive system checks, companies can help
create a desirable work environment and ensure maximum health benefits for employees while minimizing energy consumption.
In our carbon-conscious and sustainability-minded world, fresh indoor air and
comfortable temperatures can make a big difference in boosting a business and property
owner's bottom line while creating a healthier, happier and more productive workplace.
Now, that is a breath of fresh air.
Tony Saporito is executive vice president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of New York, Inc., where he is responsible for all affairs of the association,
including labor relations and service as a trustee on the industry pension, welfare
and training funds. For more information, visit www.nymca.org.
JUNE 2017 CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM