The press has recently been full of the latest news on clean-living millennials. Apparently, they’re abstaining from alcohol in increasing numbers, as part of their obsession with wellness. As this generation moves into the workplace, we can expect that their concern over the quality of the air they’re breathing in their offices, will shake up some of the traditional concerns of the air conditioning industry.
In fact, over the summer, there was a Carbon 2018 breakfast meeting in London, to discuss just this issue. It was attended by experts on well being in buildings, and, held, appropriately enough, on Clean Air Day.
“Generation Z” Wants Purer Air
Employers are realising that the new generation places wellbeing on a par with salary. To attract the best employees, they need to provide the best workplaces. One of the new buzzwords, as far as HVAC is concerned, is “thermal comfort”. That means employees choosing the temperature they feel most comfortable with, rather than a building supervisor setting a “one size fits all” thermostat.
But by far the hottest issue is indoor air pollution. People working in London are already travelling to work through heavily polluted streets, and younger employees are intensely aware of the damage this can do to their health.
Inside Air To Become A Haven Against Polluted Streets
There are two European standards for outdoor air quality. The UK implements these through a patchwork of provisions, but the fact is that London, Manchester and Glasgow are failing to achieve them. The prediction is that in Greater London, the standards won’t be met until 2025. So there is now a move to make buildings “havens” of clean air, protecting people from the effects of outdoor pollution.
While there are currently no specific standards for indoor air quality, societal pressure to implement standards is mounting. There is already strong interest from property agents and businesses, in implementing wellbeing schemes that measure and validate the air quality inside buildings.
The WELL Building Standard
The WELL Building Institute has developed the WELL Building Standard, as part of the push for healthier buildings. They state that landlords are driving adoption of the standard, because they see it as a big selling point for high end clients. The WELL standard is being used with the BREEAM sustainability standards, in new developments and conversions, with larger projects seeking certification against both sets of requirements. WELL’s advanced air purifcation standard covers carbon filtration, air sanitisation and air quality maintenance.
Are Homes Sealing In Pollutants?
Meanwhile, the Royal College of Physicians has set up a major study, to assess the effect of indoor pollution, on both children’s health, and on the wellbeing of pregnant women. There are concerns that with homes being super insulated to conserve energy, pollutant levels are rising because ventilation is inadequate. So it may well be that large housing projects of the future, are built with integrated air quality monitoring and filtration.
Concerns over building wellness, and air quality, will have major effects on the HVAC industry over the next few years. Millennials and Generation Z will demand purer air in their buildings, and this non-drinking, clean living segment of the population may make us all rethink the indoor environments we have so far taken for granted.