May 5, 2017 8:00:00 AM EDT  |  Culture  |  Facilities Support Services  |  WELL Building Standard

Take a Deep Breath – WELL Air Quality Standards

Take a deep breath. Was your air fresh? How can you tell? 

Relaxed young woman at home with raised armsModern offices are notorious for their recirculated air. We’ve all heard of “Sick Building Syndrome” where workers have a variety of health problems from breathing the stale, toxic air caused by airtight buildings. 

Nausea, headaches, and respiratory irritation from volatile organic compounds and particulates can make going to work a challenge.

Clean air is such a basic necessity that it’s the first WELL Building Standard (#01 Air Quality Standards). This standard outlines the requirements employers should follow to provide the best air quality for their employees: formaldehyde levels less than 27 parts per billion (ppb), carbon monoxide levels less than 9 ppm, ozone levels less than 51 ppb, and radon levels less than 4pC/L. 

What can we do to ensure that everyone’s air is this clean?

First, the standard requires that the air is tested after occupancy. After passing that, there are a few innovative products and services that can help maintain good air quality. Aircuity offers a system that gives a real-time assessment of indoor air quality. When its sensors pick up an unhealthy level of carbon monoxide or particulates, it activates the building’s ventilation system to fix the problem. More and more building owners are self reporting results on a real-time basis to their occupants. 

On a smaller scale, Lighting Science makes a desktop lamp that not only provides a broad spectrum of light, but also monitors the quality of the air around it. I have been using this lamp at my desk for the past few months and from time to time it does have an alert, but typically only when I am cleaning my desk surface with a Clorox wipe.

Clean air is the most basic necessity for a WELL certified building. By monitoring and fixing the air quality of the workplace, you can let everyone breathe a little easier.


Originally published on LinkedIn by Ray Carney, WELL AP.

About the Author

Ray Carney

Ray Carney

Ray Carney, WELL AP is a Vice President at Markon Solutions and a champion for wellness in the workplace. Ray’s areas of expertise include workplace strategy and modification, design thinking, leadership, sustainable design, data centers, and creating secure environments. His experience includes providing cradle-to-grave project management support for the successful design and build of secure facilities. He also spearheaded the tenant fit-out of Markon's headquarters expansion to ensure that it achieved WELL certification. This was the first WELL certified project in the Commonwealth and was recognized by the City of Falls Church for its achievement. Since joining Markon in 2007, Ray has managed numerous internal program strategies, capture efforts, and client engagements. He also co-developed Markon's in-house Leadership Development Program. Prior to joining Markon, Ray consulted for prestigious consulting firms in the DC metropolitan area and Ohio. Ray's passion for wellness in the workplace has led him to speak at numerous engagements around the country including the National Facilities Management and Technology (NFMT) Conference and Expo. He also published an article on WELL Building Standards in FaciltiesNet. Ray was named one of Engineering News-Record Midatlantic's 2016 Top 20 Under 40 for contributions to the industry. He received his MBA with a concentration in Leadership and Finance from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor’s degree in Management with a concentration in Business Technology from John Carroll University. Ray is a WELL Accredited Professional, LEED Green Associate, Six-Sigma certified Yellow Belt, certified SCRUMMaster, Sun Certified Java Programmer, and holds the Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential as well as both ITIL v3 Foundations and Quality Management certifications.