There are many well-known benefits of maintaining a clean environment in commercial buildings. Some of the more important advantages include:
- Increased worker productivity
- More professional appearance for customers and other visitors
- Decreased spread of disease and fewer sick days
- Improved employee morale
Ultimately, a commercial space’s appearance and air quality have a significant impact on a company’s success. That means that facility managers, cleaning crews and employees must work together to keep spaces clean and hygienic.
Indoor Air Quality: The Unseen Component of “Clean”
When assessing the cleanliness of a commercial space, the first thing most people consider is the presence or absence of physical indicators like dust, dirt, carpet stains, cobwebs, etc. Those certainly are important factors in how clean a building or a particular unit is.
However, visible cleanliness is only part of the equation. You must also consider how clean the air is, as that plays an important role in the overall hygiene of a space, even if occupants and visitors can’t see it and therefore are not as aware of it.
Is the air free of harmful particles? Does it have a neutral scent, or is there a detectable unpleasant odor? Does the air have the right humidity level—one high enough that it keeps skin from feeling dry and itchy but low enough that the space doesn’t make skin and surfaces feel damp or clammy?
Good indoor air quality doesn’t happen by chance. It takes the right infrastructure, ongoing monitoring and maintenance, as well as following air quality best practices. This includes:
- Keeping your HVAC system clean and well-maintained. Dust, debris and grease build up in HVAC units and on filters over time. Regularly scheduled maintenance and filter replacement is crucial for ensuring good air quality. If these practices aren’t followed, your HVAC system can begin to introduce contaminants and odors into the work environment.
- Ensuring proper ventilation. Commercial buildings tend to have tight seals on windows and doors to keep the heated or cooled and humidity-managed air inside. However, that means any contaminants inside remain there as well if the air isn’t moved around the space and through filters. Proper air circulation is essential.
- Monitoring and managing humidity levels. Humidity is a major factor in indoor air quality. Indoor air humidity should be maintained roughly between 40% and 50%. If it gets much lower than 40%, occupants may find that their skin feels dry and scaly. Humidity that is too much above 50% can create “muggy” conditions that leave moisture on surfaces and are uncomfortable for occupants and visitors.
- Using air-cleaning devices if needed. The filters in your HVAC system remove a significant quantity of unwanted particles from the air. However, in some environments, an additional air-cleaning unit or units may be needed to assist the HVAC system in cleaning the air.
Keeping Surfaces Clean
Clean air and clean surfaces go hand-in-hand. The most effective air filtering systems can’t provide optimal air quality if the floors, ceilings, walls and work surfaces in a space aren’t kept clean. Dirty surfaces essentially become a “launchpad” for airborne contaminants.
To maximize the overall cleanliness in your commercial building, you should:
- Hire a professional cleaning service. Ideally, building occupants should do their part in keeping workspaces and common areas within their suite clean (see below). But at busy companies, that doesn’t always happen. Having a dedicated crew that makes a thorough, top-to-bottom pass through your building on a regular basis is vital.
- Clearly define your cleaning crew’s responsibilities. You shouldn’t assume that a cleaning crew will have the same high standards that you do. For example, if you want them to clean and disinfect surfaces like elevator buttons, doorknobs, armrests on chairs in common areas, etc. regularly, you should make that clear.
- Encourage occupants to keep their areas clean. Maximizing air quality and surface cleanliness takes a group effort. Occupants should understand that while a cleaning crew is working hard on their behalf, company employees can and should focus on cleaning up after themselves. They should be aware that their efforts not only benefit building occupants generally but also them specifically.
- Stock plenty of cleaning supplies. Occupants are much more likely to keep their areas clean if they have access to the right supplies. It only takes a few instances where materials aren’t available for them to adopt the attitude that they will just leave messes for the cleaning crew.
- Do regular inspections. You don’t have to describe your visits to common areas and occupant suites as “inspections,” but walking through them regularly (provided the lease terms allow you to do so) and assessing their cleanliness helps you spot areas of concern so you can address them with your cleaning crew and/or the occupants before they become problematic.
Additional Benefits of Excellent Air Quality and Building Cleanliness
As a facility manager, a big part of your job is keeping occupants comfortable and happy. However, there are other benefits of maintaining good air quality and facility cleanliness. One is that keeping your spaces—and your HVAC system—clean helps you maintain the overall value of the building. Long-term neglect can slowly degrade your space and systems, creating a negative impression for potential purchasers down the road.
The same applies in the short term to tenants. If a company is choosing between your building and another comparable space, and one suite is clean and comfortable while the other is less so, you know which one they will select.
So, while it takes time, effort and capital to maintain good air quality and keep a building clean and inviting, it is an investment that pays off many times over through the years.
If you have questions about the services we provide—including commercial HVAC, industrial HVAC, residential heating and residential cooling, please contact Timberline Mechanical at your convenience. We are happy to talk with you about your climate control objectives and the variety of systems we can implement to help you meet them. That includes both the design and installation of new solutions and the repair and servicing of existing systems to enable you to maximize their benefits.
About Timberline Mechanical
Timberline Mechanical is a Boulder HVAC Contractor located in Boulder, CO, and serving the Colorado Front Range, including Broomfield, Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette, Superior and Erie. We are dedicated to providing the intelligent solutions necessary to keep your Boulder Commercial HVAC equipment running efficiently and at its peak performance. Whether we are completing a service call request, providing Commercial HVAC Preventive Maintenance or conducting Special Projects work, we offer intelligent commercial HVAC solutions to ensure that your business needs are met. You can focus on your business while we make sure your commercial HVAC equipment is running smoothly. https://www.timberlinemechanical.com/
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