Do Facility Operations Really Impact Building Occupant Health? Studies Suggest So
Facilities personnel take the health and safety of their patrons seriously. Every maintenance workflow or upgrade is completed with the intent of preventing hazards or dangerous situations.
But is the traditional model of facilities management enough? Recent studies show a definite correlation between the conditions and operations of a building and the health of its occupants. Especially for facilities that primarily serve vulnerable populations — i.e., children, the elderly — it is essential that administrators understand how to best maintain structures to protect users.
Young children are especially susceptible to the negative effects of poor building operations. The McGraw Hill Foundation recently published a white paper detailing the relationship between building conditions and student health and performance. Research reveals that high-quality facilities translate into better student performance. Since some school funding is tied to test scores, improved performance could be instrumental in securing additional funding from local, state or federal authorities.
More importantly, improved quality of building conditions reduced the frequency of sick days by up to 15 percent, resulting in better planning and use of school resources — a positive result for student learning and health.
What explains this correlation? A possible reason lies in the obvious: smog is harmful to young developing minds, so finding ways to reduce exposure can result in better learning retention, higher test scores and healthier students.
That’s exactly what some Los Angeles schools found out. After a gas leak false alarm resulted in schools outfitting classrooms with commercial air filters, test scores rose significantly. Schools — and other facilities — in or near areas of heavy pollution have a simple and cost-effective way to boost performance and maintain the health of building occupants — maximize air quality.
The Issue of Humidity
High levels of humidity — the amount of moisture in the air — makes occupants uncomfortable in the mildest of scenarios. Left unchecked, humidity can become a breeding ground for mildew, growth and even toxic spores. As a direct threat to the health of building occupants, facilities need to maintain healthy levels of humidity and have a plan to deal with any issues that may arise.
At the same time, low humidity levels allow the influenza virus to thrive and spread among carriers. With the United States being in a relatively temperate climate, the flu spikes in the winter when humidity levels reach their yearly nadir. Facility occupants may benefit from the appropriate use of a humidifier during this time to prevent flu symptoms from worsening.
Cenergistic partners with clients to implement a comprehensive, proven energy-reducing program, saving organizations the time, learning curve and resources it would otherwise take to implement a self-sufficient program. Best of all, Cenergistic does all of this without sacrificing the health of building occupants or their comfort.
One real-world example: Energy Specialists at the University of Kentucky have created savings of over $17 million. Despite changes to machinery use and operational practices across facilities, comfort complaints received (and the associated costs) actually went down, as continuous audits revealed longstanding problems for the Energy Specialists to resolve.
Find out how Cenergistic can work to lower your organization’s energy consumption and maximize the effectiveness of your facilities by contacting us online or calling 1-855-798-7779 today.