Are you one of those unnerved by going back to the office in the middle of a pandemic? Fear not, sayeth the good book. One way to ease the fear is to go green in the workplace to combat the spread of disease. In addition to making operational cost savings, creating healthier and more productive workforce, the return on investment is obvious but the question remains, why isn’t there a bandwagon? Well, whilst there is both the curiosity and even the appetite to go green, there is this a perception that to do so will be expensive. Indeed, depending on design and scale of a project for new builds or retrofitting existing buildings, going green whilst focused on the upfront costs can be a disincentive. The good news however is that there are some low hanging green measures that can be implemented at the office. Ready for a quick tour? Let’s go!
Indoor Air Quality Monitoring
Indoor air quality is a good place to start. A good indicator of air freshness is determined by the levels of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) within a particular space. This is generally an accepted benchmark test for indoor air quality.
Naturally as humans, we inhale oxygen and exhale CO2 which is then released into our immediate surrounding. It therefore follows logic that, the more human bodies are within a particular space, the more concentrated CO2 is within that particular space. So, when the CO2 levels are over concentrated within a particular space compared to its immediate outdoor surrounding, it lowers the amount of fresh air exchange and creates an imbalance. This imbalance will require an intervention of sort or some ventilation measure to reduce the over concentration of CO2. Failure to provide proper ventilation will compromise the quality of air within that particular space, leaving occupants susceptible to allergies and viral infections etc.
Understanding and controlling building ventilation can improve the quality of the air we breathe and reduce the risk of indoor health concerns including prevention of the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread indoors. One way you can control ventilation is to measure the concentration of CO2 and there are modern monitoring devices and sensors that measure indoor air quality (IAQ). The average CO2 level of a well-managed space for instance is at 350- 1,000ppm. When CO2 levels rise beyond this average mark, then it will require further ventilation intervention to minimize concentration of pollutants and aerosols that contribute to respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
Wellness / Relaxation Pod
It is advised that you dedicate space within the office or immediate outdoors where stressed employees can retreat, regroup, refocus and be still, meditate or collect their thoughts. Adding a great view with plants or greenery enhances this experience even more. This affords occupants the opportunity to reduce stress levels which directly impacts their health. In addition to physical wellbeing, occupants experience improved mental health and a 12% boost in occupants’ productivity.
Daylighting involves the controlled use of natural light in and around buildings. Some of the measures used include the controlled admission of natural light, direct sunlight, and diffused-skylight into a building to reduce electric lighting. Natural light is essential to your mental and physical health, and not getting enough sunlight can drastically reduce your energy levels and negatively influence work performance. Studies have shown that exposure to natural light during the working day leads to 46 minutes more sleep each night, demonstrating the importance of bringing healthy light into our spaces. The math adds up as always, adequate rests equals a boosted immune system to ward off diseases.
Bring the outside in with indoor plants which are great natural purifiers and also eats up CO2s. Aloe Vera and Snake plant for instance remove toxins from the air in your office, whilst providing oxygen in return. Adequate indoor plants help to prevent what is known as “Sick Building Syndrome” i.e these plants reduce C02s concentration while increasing oxygen levels thus preventing fatigue, headaches and other respiratory diseases including COVID 19.
See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? He who finds a green measure finds a good thing, sayeth the good book.
If you found these tips useful and need further discussion, engage the writer @
LinkedIn: Cyril Nii Ayitey Tetteh
The writer is the Executive director of Yecham Property Consult
& Founder of Ghana Green Building Summit.