Each month, we are examining the core principles of one of the ten concepts of the WELL Building Standard. The Standard identifies over 100 performance metrics, design strategies, and policies that are divided into ten sections or concepts: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind, and Community. This month, we’re learning more about the Air Concept.
THE AIR CONCEPT
The average person spends approximately 90% of their time indoors, either at home, at an office, in school, or in other buildings. During this time indoors, we can be exposed to a number of different types of contaminants from a variety of sources. Common indoor air contaminants can lead to a variety of short-term and long-term health outcomes.
THE GOALS OF THE WELL AIR CONCEPT
The WELL Air Concept seeks to implement holistic design strategies to promote clean air and minimize human exposure to harmful contaminants. Some of the goals and strategies of this concept are to:
- Provide a basic level of indoor air quality that contributes to the health and wellbeing of the inhabitants. This is achieved by testing for particulate matter, organic gases like VOCs, inorganic gases like CO and ozone, and radon.
- Provide a smoke-free environment by discouraging smoking and prohibiting indoor and outdoor smoking on the premises.
- Minimize indoor air quality issues through the provision of adequate ventilation.
- Minimize construction-related pollutants and remediate construction-related indoor air contamination.
- Promote enhanced indoor air quality that supports health and wellbeing by meeting enhanced thresholds for particulate matter, organic and inorganic gases.
- Enhance the ventilation design by expelling internally generated pollutants and increase supply of outdoor air.
- Increase the supply of high-quality outdoor air and promote the connection to the outdoor environment by opening windows when outdoor air quality is acceptable.
- Monitor indoor air quality and inform and educate inhabitants on the quality of the indoor environment.
- Minimize the introduction of pollutants into the air through the building envelope and at all entrances.
- Reduce exposure to combustion-related air pollution from heating, cooking, and transportation sources.
- Reduce indoor and outdoor air contamination through effective air filtration.
- Mitigate exposure to indoor air contaminants and pollution sources, like VOCs and infectious disease particles, though enhanced air supply.
- Reduce mold and bacteria growth in the mechanical system by implementing an ultraviolet treatment for HVAC systems.
COMMON INDOOR AIR CONTAMINANTS
- Combustion sources (cooktops, fireplaces)
- Building materials
- Cleaning products
- Personal care products
- Air fresheners
LESS SEVERE SYMPTOMS
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Eye irritation
MORE SEVERE SYMPTOMS
- Bacterial infections
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Respiratory disease
- Some types of cancer
At TSD we believe it is important for both professionals (architects, interior designers, and contractors) as well as building users (homeowners, business owners, school administration, maintenance personnel, etc.) to understand the problems as well as the potential solutions for creating and maintaining healthy interior spaces. We can do this by eliminating or reducing sources of indoor air pollution, designing healthier interiors and systems, changing human behavior, and installing treatment methods to improve air quality.
If you want to know more about making your home or office a safer and healthier environment, reach out to us by email or DM us on Instagram. Also, stay tuned next month when we introduce the second WELL concept: Water.
Taleah Smith Design is an interior design studio based in Vancouver, British Columbia. We specialize in interior design that promotes wellness and sustainability. We believe your living space should promote a greater sense of health and wellbeing, and we approach this goal from many difference angles. If you would like to discuss a project, you can reach out to us here.
We also provide resources and consulting for other interior designers looking to integrate wellness and sustainability into their design practices. If you would like to learn more, contact us here.