Clear Air For Better Work Performance

With more workers returning to the office, ensuring excellent indoor air quality is a priority for many businesses.

Indoor air quality has a significant impact not only on workers’ health and well-being, but also on their productivity. As such, there has been a growing emphasis on improving air quality at the workplace especially as companies around the world try to woo employees back.  

A report by the City of London showed that contaminated air was the cause of some 650,000 sick days per year. Furthermore, the failure to address bad air quality can adversely impact the ability of a business to attract and retain talent.                                                                                                                   

A recent study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong also found that companies in China which were located in more polluted areas were losing their talent to rivals located in areas with cleaner air. They also had a harder time recruiting talented professionals. 

Curbing formaldehyde emissions

One area of indoor air quality that businesses have been focusing on is the emission of unhealthy gases, such as formaldehyde, from materials and furnishings used in an indoor space. Such emissions have been linked to serious health concerns.

Formaldehyde is a colourless, pungent-smelling gas that can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some people when exposed at elevated levels. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals, and may cause cancer in humans. 

In response to this health risk, governments around the world have enacted various legislation and actions to limit exposure to formaldehyde emissions. In Singapore, the Singapore Business Federation, Singapore Furniture Industries Council and Singapore Green Building Council in support of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, initiated an Alliance for Action (AfA) on Sustainable Spaces, which seeks to transform Singapore’s indoor spaces into spaces that are healthier for everyone. Most recently, the AfA introduced the ‘Low Formaldehyde Commitment Statement’, which aims to rally the industry to pledge their commitment to reduce formaldehyde emissions in indoor spaces.

This is part of the AfA’s broader mission to bring together stakeholders across different sectors to create and enhance sustainable spaces. Among other goals, the alliance seeks toadvocate the use of low emitting materials and furnishings in indoor spaces by developing and articulating industry guidelines for the supply and adoption of low formaldehyde solutions in indoor spaces.

Leveraging tech solutions

Building owners can take advantage of readily available technology solutions to help them deal with formaldehyde and other emissions. Local Cloud IoT Platform and Solutions company, Green Koncepts, for instance, offers an end-to-end solution for indoor air quality (IAQ) monitoring that tracks and measures pollutants in real-time, and with real-time alerts.

Users of the solution will receive an alert whenever the level of formaldehyde (or any other indoor air quality parameter) crosses a user-defined threshold. They can then access a web app to see details of the alert and begin investigating the cause.

“When you are managing entire offices or buildings or multiple locations, being able to track remotely all indoor air quality parameters with one integrated solution can help you quickly identify the source, and take immediate action to remove these pollutants before they cause any harm,” said Kenneth Lee, Founder and CEO, Green Koncepts.

Green Koncepts’ IAQ solution also integrates with ACMV systems within the office or building, thereby enabling control of fresh air intake into indoor areas.

To empower employees to take ownership of their well-being and environment, Green Koncepts’ system comes with a public dashboard that can be projected on a large screen so that employees can see the real-time values of all parameters. Property managers can use this ‘live’ data to ensure that a building’s air conditioning system is maintained, and that indoor air quality parameters are within the recommended standards. It also serves to drive the timely replacement of air filters, and to ensure that sufficient fresh air is pumped into a building to keep CO2 levels within prescribed standards.

Key Indoor air quality parameters and indexes at a glance

Mr Lee commented, “Buildings are actually dynamic, carrying with them human breath as well as off-gassing from furniture. So with COVID-19, it makes sense to track a building’s pathogen transmission prevention potential, based on air quality parameters that can be controlled by the ACMV system.“

Green Koncepts’ solution features an Air Quality Index, which provides a measure of the IAQ and the impact it has on occupant health, as well as the Viral Index, which provides a measure that relates IAQ with the potential infection rate of an airborne virus focussing on the air quality variables that a building can control and measure via suitable continuous monitoring. By monitoring the levels of particulate matter, temperature, humidity and CO2, the Viral Index reveals a building’s pathogen transmission prevention potential.

With more employees returning to the workplace as the world learns to live with COVID-19, it is more important than ever to ensure worker health and safety by closely monitoring air quality. 

Mr Lee highlighted, “Everywhere in the world, governments are recommending the monitoring of indoor air quality to provide occupants with real time readings of indoor air quality parameters. In Europe, we see this for schools and childcare centres too. In Singapore, we have delivered indoor air quality systems for several companies including DBS Bank and VMWare.”

To find out more about how you can be part of the AfA’s work on reducing formaldehyde emissions in indoor spaces, email SBF at [email protected]

See Green Koncepts’ IAQ solutions and more at