NEW WHITE PAPER: The Nature of Air: Economic and bio-inspired perspectives on indoor air quality management

Our team at AtmosAir is excited to announce the release of a new whitepaper from one of the most respected green building consultancies, Terrapin Bright Green.  Aptly titled, “The Nature of Air: Economic and bio-inspired perspectives on indoor air quality management ,” the paper highlights research surrounding indoor environmental quality.

Co-authored by Dakota Walker and Bill Browning, Bill is known as one of the green building and real estate industry’s foremost thinkers and strategists, as well as a pioneering advocate for sustainable design solutions at all levels of business, government and civil society. 

The Nature of Air

Summary: Poor indoor air quality diminishes cognitive functioning. For employers, reduced work task performance translates into a lower return on their investment in employees. Indoor air quality management remains an industry challenge as efforts to improve air quality, and subsequent occupant wellness, often come at the expense of energy performance. Insights from atmospheric cleaning mechanisms have spurred the development of air purifying technology to realign air quality management with the fundamental processes found in nature. Doing so allows for better management of pollutants that emanate from indoors and helps to decouple air quality with the amount of air brought in from outside.

Poor indoor air quality hinders an employee’s ability to be present and productive at work, which lowers the revenue they bring in to a company.

  • If you take two identical offices, with one having four-fold higher indoor air pollution levels, employees at the office with worse air quality will be around 3.8% less productive. That office of 100 employees, will have wasted $326,496 in unproductive salary and benefit expenditures annually.
  • Per square foot, a company spends almost 20 times more on employees than on rent and office operating costs combined.
  • We breathe in approximately 11,500 liters of air per day.

Traditional IAQ management often increases a buildings energy use, pitting occupant health against energy performance.

  • Conservatively ventilation alone accounts for 10% of a building’s energy consumption–not including energy for heating and cooling.
  • Gensler found some air filtration systems can cause a 7% increase in energy use for the typical commercial office building.

Earth’s atmosphere has managed pollution loads for millions of years using minimal energy and only basic tenets of physics and chemistry.

  • The atmosphere has the capability to clean itself by using a combination of agglomeration, oxidation, and sterilization.
  • Each of these three mechanisms is carried out or supported by atmospheric air ions

Making use of these same atmospheric cleaning mechanisms, indoor air quality can be managed in a more circular and energy-efficient way.

  • By fortifying the air itself, indoor air can be continually purified and recycled until high co2 levels necessitate introducing new air.
  • Because ion concentration is typically lower indoors, increasing air ion concentration would also help buildings better mimic air conditions in nature.

By cleaning the air in the space itself, bi-polar ionization can better manage the many pollution sources that emanate from the materials and furniture inside our buildings. 

  • One review found that more than two-thirds of indoor and outdoor air quality studies find higher air pollutant concentration indoors than outdoors.