In both residential and commercial building, an important step in protecting indoor air quality is properly sequencing material installations to avoid the “sink effect,” say experts at UL Environment, an environmental services consulting firm specializing in building materials. “Installing wet products after the installation of porous materials can cause substances which are emitted from the wet products to be absorbed — and subsequently be emitted — from those porous materials,” UL wrote to The Knowledge Builder in an email last week. This can also cause future problems with mold and other moisture retention issues.
Properly storing materials throughout the construction process is another important part of preventing mold and moisture problems.
The same practices that help protect indoor air quality in residential projects — such as utilizing appropriate air- and moisture-barriers and specing low-emitting products and finishes — apply to commercial projects as well; however, commercial projects also come with some special considerations. For example, plans should include local exhaust for copier rooms and custodial spaces. Also, pressure relations—both between indoors and out as well as between interior rooms and floors—become more important in larger buildings.
To ensure that indoor air quality is protected throughout the life of the building, it is important to train facility management personnel and the building’s owners on green maintenance and selecting low-emitting products and methods for upkeep.
What steps have you taken to protect the indoor air quality in your commercial projects? We would love to hear your experiences in the comments section below.