Australian standard and green certification programs continue to drive massive improvements in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), especially in commercial buildings. For office buildings, IAQ can have a direct impact on bottom line profits and productivity. According to the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), which provides Green Star rating tools for sustainability, good ventilation and plenty of natural light can boost profits for developers and building owners, and improve productivity for tenants. GBCA CEO Romilly Madew cited research that shows green buildings command better rents, higher occupancy and reduced operating expenses for developers and landlords.
“For tenants, this means significant health improvements leading to better worker productivity and employee retention,” she said. “The importance of IAQ is often underestimated due to the lack of knowledge about adequate ventilation in indoor environments and the related health effects associated with poor airflow.”
HUGE COST OF POOR IAQ
Indeed, the CSIRO estimates that poor IAQ is costing Australian business $12 billion in lost productivity per annum.
It’s a massive figure that proves there is still a lot of work to do to improve air quality in the Australian workplace, according to Asthma Australia. The prevalence of asthma in Australia is higher than international standards with between 1,000 and 3,000 new cases of the respiratory condition diagnosed annually. It’s a problem that has highlighted the issue of workplace exposures.
A recent study undertaken by Perth’s Curtin University found there are 227 substances commonly found in the Australian workplace that can contribute to the onset of adult asthma. Jointl commissioned by the National Health and Medical Research Council and SafeWork Australia, the study is the first comprehensive list of Australian occupationally-relevant asthmagens ever recorded. It was compiled to help “focus policy and preventative practices to reduce the burden of occupational asthma” and to assist regulators with standards to improve worker health. The primary standard used to ensure the right level of ventilation or outside air in every occupied building is AS 1688.2 which has been adopted by the National Construction Code and the Building Code of Australia. It is government regulations and a growing awareness of health issues that is driving the IAQ market and the development of HVAC products, according to a new report by Allied Market Research.
DAIKIN LEADS THE WAY
This is certainly evident in new air conditioning products coming to market in early 2017. A prime example of a manufacturer that is serious about air quality is Daikin, the only company in Australia today ratified to feature a Sensitive Choice logo on its range of split systems. Approved by the National Asthma Council, the logo of a blue butterfly is used to help consumers identify products that can actually reduce asthma and allergy triggers.
Daikin Australia’s national product manager, Raj Singh, said regulations and standards such as AS1668.2 have actually contributed to the development of its soon to be released VRV Air Handling Unit. Available either as a Standard or an Outside Air series, the new models have the ability to condition large volumes of outside air. “Conditions like Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) are a very real concern with occupants suffering a range of symptoms from headaches to throat irritations, fatigue and nausea,” Singh said.
“This is why a wide range of air flow options is so important when creating products for large commercial environments. The VRV AHU Standard series can deliver airflows from 900-7,800L/s while the Outside Air series can deliver between 566-4,550L/s and both can provide ESP of up to 500Pa.”
Available in nine models for each series, Singh said air handling units are tailor made for optimising air conditions throughout multiple spaces. An industry first, the VRV AHU is a DX system paired with Daikin’s highly efficient VRV IV Heat Pump outdoor machines, equipped with Variable Refrigerant Technology (VRT) and constructed of either a 25mm or 50mm thick PU insulated panels, single or double skin with a thermal break option. “It can also be customised to your building as the unique modular design can be sized to a customer’s exact requirements; and extended pipe runs of up to 165m provide for even greater design flexibility,” Singh said. “The VRV AHU was created for conditioning large open areas including cinemas, shopping centres, auditoriums and office buildings. “Through the VRT feature, as the building load changes the system adapts by adjusting the supply air temperatures to better comfort levels and more efficient operations. It also has free cooling options and is available with an EC plug fan to provide even greater control over air flow.”