In the highly industrialized continent of Asia, high productivity has some risks to residents and consumers.
More than ever, people are demanding transparency and responsibility from builders to mitigate the pollution that plagues most dense cities.
Let’s learn more about what impacts indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and if technologies such as radiant cooling can be used to improve thermal comfort.
Alarming Statistics and the Need for Change
News outlets continue to report on indoor air quality (IAQ) as a threat to the health and wellbeing of building occupants.
It’s known that outdoor air quality is absolutely poor, but IAQ looms as a health threat.
According to DNA India, “Cooking, room heaters, paints, air conditioners, smoke, dust, insecticides and so on cause pollution inside buildings, which are equally harmful and these are more dangerous than air pollution outside as people generally spend more time inside the buildings, several global studies have indicated.”
IAQ in India specifically is swiftly becoming one of the country’s biggest health concerns.
In Asia and the Pacific as a whole, a reported 92% of the population is exposed to air pollution that greatly exceeds the World Health Organization Guidelines (WHO).
What Legislators Want to Do
A total of 25 solutions have been proposed by the UN Environment Assembly.
Each of the 25 solutions fit into one of three categories:
- Convention Emission Controls (Particulate Matter)
- Air Quality Measures (PM2.5)
- Measures Contributing to Priority Goals with Air Quality (Industry-specific)
Implementation of these solutions is said to cost between $300 and 600 billion USD.
Although some measures seem daunting, it’s not as difficult to see that there is room for improvement from private entities.
As we’ll see, there are many things builders can do to improve IEQ.
The Importance of Indoor Environmental Quality
IEQ includes man factors that impact the condition of a building.
For instance: air quality, thermal comfort, ergonomics, and lighting all play a part in the IEQ of a building.
IEQ is important.
To optimize IEQ translates into better human health, lowered stress, and improved overall quality of life.
Not only that, IEQ leads to better perceived value for the building or home in addition to lowered liability for owners.
In workplaces and schools, attention to providing good IEQ is known to influence the performance of employees and students.
Prioritizing IEQ is just good business.
How do builders and company owners improve an occupant’s comfort?
- Better lighting
- Operable windows
- Occupant-controlled temperature and ventilation
- Ergonomic furniture
- Improved HVAC/radiant systems
- Good acoustics
- Lighting control
IEQ vs IAQ
IAQ is inextricable from IEQ.
While IEQ describes the totality of a variety of factors that influence the indoor quality of a space, IAQ just describes one of those factors.
Therefore, IAQ is a subset of IEQ.
According to one US builder, “IAQ is about what we breathe. IEQ, more comprehensively, is about what we breathe, see, hear, and feel inside a building.”
These days, consumers are noticing the difference in their air quality, and have raised expectations on what they consider safe.
Consumers Are Demanding Better Air
Today’s consumers want better air.
In Asia especially, air quality is a consideration when choosing where to live and where to work.
Because quality of life matters.
According to Medical Trends Around the World 2018, the leading health risk to Asians is environmental – especially outdoor pollution and IAQ.
A surprising section of the population is voicing their opinion: the growing middle class.
Brink Asia reports that “For an emerging middle class, quality of life factors—like health and fitness—become a regular expectation. Asia’s growing middle class does not expect to work in environments—workplaces included—that threaten their well-being.”
So what can companies do to combat this newly educated, large section of the population?
Now is the time to be innovative, and the technology available today is more than able to meet consumer expectations, especially radiant cooling.
Radiant Cooling: A Solution to Today’s Climate Changes in Asia
Controlling IAQ in countries that are excessively warm and humid can be challenging. For many Asian countries, this is a common issue.
In addition to the climate, population-dense cities struggle with IAQ due to indoor pollution as we stated before.
Traditional HVAC is ill-equipped to deal with both the climate and the IAQ in Asia.
The downfall of traditional HVAC systems is their ability to only monitor and regulate air temperature.
Radiant cooling systems, an alternative to HVAC systems, have a wider purview. In a radiant system, you can control sensible heat energy transfer.
One project where radiant was successfully implemented is the Uponor Taicang building in China. This 5,000 square metre facility is home to Uponor’s 14th manufacturing facility.
Uponor Taicang was highly successful, resulting in optimal energy consumption and thermal comfort for employees as indicated by the real-time data below.
Another example of successful implementation of Uponor’s radiant system is the Tencent Beijing Headquarters building in Zhongguancun Software Park, Haidian District, Beijing.
For this large facility, Uponor provided radiant cooling and heating solutions.
A final example of radiant cooling systems in commercial spaces is the Bayer Eco Commercial Building Lighthouse.
Design for this facility was deliberate and took IEQ seriously and energy use. The case study states, “The radiant system is just one aspect of a holistic, sustainable system. Everything from the building’s lighting system to wall coatings were considered and tested.”
With the implementation of a TABS, or thermally active building system, desirable IEQ was achieved. In addition to this, the Bayer Eco Lighthouse Building became Qingdao’s first zero-emissions building.
In both case studies, the result was better temperature control, lowered maintenance costs and improved IAQ.
Smart Design Considers IEQ and IAQ
Exposure to dangerous pollutants indoors is just as risky as outdoor environments.
For builders and engineers looking to improve their projects, meet consumer expectations, invest in the value of the property, and create a design that prioritizes IEQ is crucial.
In truth, bad IEQ and IAQ cost businesses more as it directly impacts work performance which translates to the loss of real dollars – to the tune of $700 USD per person, per year.
How’s that for incentive?