The last few decades have seen a change in lifestyles owing to advances in technology. One of the most notable changes is a shift towards indoor living as most people now spend most of their time at home. This has been described as the indoor generation that relies on technology for virtually every aspect of their lives. But indoor living comes with multiple risks. Recent research shows that levels of indoor air quality (IAQ) continue to deteriorate.
There is a growing focus on healthy buildings and interior environments to mitigate the risk of indoor air pollution and sickness. A healthy building features equally safe and healthy indoors where occupants are less likely to fall ill. Studies show high indoor air quality (IAQ) translates to a happier, more productive workforce.
Research shows that tenants will now start looking at the health of a building before renting. With more evidence emerging about the role of indoor air in spreading communicable diseases, it becomes more important than ever to monitor critical Health Performance Indicators (HPIs). There is now a shift in attention going towards the health of a building as opposed to the aesthetics or the energy savings, as the most valuable asset of any building are the people inside.
Households, businesses, schools, and public offices can now track and monitor their building’s IAQ performance and overall indoor environmental quality using these key HPIs.
What are HPIs?
After the Second World War, countries across the world were in a rush to house their populations. There was little regard to the quality of building materials or the health of the resulting buildings. With time, the Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) emerged. This phenomenon was associated with indoor pollutants such as mold, asbestos, high humidity levels, chemicals, dust, smoke, and inadequate ventilation and/or poorly timed air changes.
Health Performance Indicators (HPIs) help determine how well a building performs in resolving the sick building syndrome. These quantifiable indicators gauge a building’s impact on factors such as health, well-being and productivity.
Whether it is an office building, school, home, restaurant, retail location, or other public buildings such as libraries, museums and gyms, HPIs reveals how healthy a building is. HPIs fall under:
1. Direct indicators: Employee happiness, employee complaints, sentiment analysis, illness trends, health care costs, data from personal digital devices, total sick days and occupants’ perception of their health.
2. Indirect HPIs: Include Work space’s biophilic design, green building credits, green space access, green cleaning procedures, wellness programs, integrated pest management, ventilation, material selection, continuous commissioning, occupants’ perception of your building, retroactive commissioning, and space utilization.
Monitoring and Tracking Critical Health Performance Indicators (HPIs)
Tracking and monitoring your building’s health performance indicators (HPIs) should be an integral part of SBS prevention and routine maintenance. The best approach is to use the latest healthy indoor environment monitoring and tracking technology. Through connected IoT systems, you can measure, verify, provide remote real-time access to data, and draw a plan of action to make your building healthier.
These tools provide invaluable data in real-time, which you can receive through remote notifications on your mobile device. The systems include multiple sensors inside your building to monitor indoor air quality and other health building metrics.
New developments in HPI tracking technology relies on artificial intelligence (AI) and can analyze collected data to predict employee health and business productivity trends. For a comprehensive overview and action plan, you should combine the data aggregated from your AIQ monitoring devices with other information collected from employee surveys, your organization’s business productivity and health reports, and other data collection platforms.
When monitoring your building’s health, it is also advisable to look at the emerging regulatory standards. The CDC-recommended framework and hierarchy of controls for instance is going to shape HPI monitoring in the future. This framework seeks to protect employees from hazards including biological or chemical ones. Business owners and operators are going to be responsible for the health of the customers and employees inside their buildings. Tracking IAQ and healthy building metrics is critical for success; business owners are responsible for employee exposure to harmful chemicals and viruses. In September 2020, California Governor, Gavin Newsom, implemented SB 1159 and AB 685 to this affect and more state and federal mandates are expected to follow.
Health performance indicators (HPIs) are increasingly in focus when talking about healthy buildings and employee wellness and business productivity. Your organization has a lot to benefit from a clear understanding and cost-effective monitoring and tracking of HPIs. This includes improvement in employees’ productivity, increased revenues, and reduced health costs. You will also receive a better rating for your building, higher rents, insurance incentives, and attract the best talent and businesses, along with better space utilization. IAQ monitoring and transparency will also build business credibility and increase public trust, a win-win situation.