As a property owner, you’re responsible for ensuring the quiet enjoyment of the premises for your tenants. That includes maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ). When you get tenant complaints, sometimes the best course of action is to work with a professional IAQ team. But not all IAQ providers are created equal. To ensure you get one of the good ones–and avoid the hassles of the bad ones–here are four capabilities to look for.
Depending on the specific issue, air quality complaints can escalate rapidly. We once arrived on scene to discover that an ambulance had been called to address a breathing problem that was about to become a public relations and OSHA nightmare for our client. Because we got there right away, we were able to quickly de-escalate the situation and install a solution within days that kept the business running smoothly.
Additionally, if an air quality problem is indicative of a larger building issue, such as mold growth or a systems breakdown, a quick response can prevent further damage to the building.
Ask prospective providers how quickly they can get on site, and ask about their track record in quick resolution. Check that they have offices within a reasonable distance of your sites, and then validate their claims by checking their reputation.
Building Forensics Expertise
Whenever there is an air quality issue, the cause usually lies in either the building’s structure or the building’s systems. A good provider doesn’t just identify the symptom, they understand the cause, and can design and implement a solution.
Recently, we worked with a client who ran a call center located in a strip mall. Employees were complaining that they had cold-like symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, clogged sinuses, and headaches, when they were at the workplace, but did not suffer these symptoms at home. Similar symptoms can be caused by any number of things, so we got on site to assess the situation.
When we arrived, I had an instinct that it was a carbon dioxide (CO2) issue. Because we had a building forensics team on site, they were able to investigate my hunch and discover that the AC system was underpowered for the former mall’s current use, leading to a lack of fresh air, and therefore elevated levels of CO2. We were able to design a solution that resolved the issue quickly in the short term and bought time to install a longer-term solution at a later date.
Building forensics expertise enables your IAQ provider to get quickly to the bottom of any IAQ problem, and design cost-effective solutions that meet your needs.
Moisture Assessment Capability
Moisture and humidity are among the major causes of poor indoor air quality. Mold, breathing problems, and Legionnaire’s are a few problems that can be rooted in moisture problems.
Moisture issues can originate in the HVAC system, building envelope, plumbing, or simple poor ventilation. If your IAQ provider doesn’t have specific expertise in understanding and assessing potential moisture issues in your building, they won’t be able to provide a complete diagnosis or effective remediation plan for improving air quality.
In addition to expertise, they should also have access to moisture assessment technologies, including infrared and moisture meters. These technologies reduce the potential need to perform destructive testing to uncover the source of problems.
Insurance Company Coordination
If you’re facing major (or even minor) renovations or system repairs as a result of a water intrusion event (storm damage, pipe burst, etc.), odds are you’re going to be filing an insurance claim. An IAQ provider who includes insurance company coordination as part of their services can be a major time- and money-saver. They’ll be able to design a solution that will be acceptable to your insurance company, and smooth the filing and payments process on your behalf.
Indoor air quality is a multi-layered and complex topic. In large, commercial buildings it can be difficult to address problems when they arise. But with the right IAQ provider on your team, you can rest assured your buildings are in good hands.