Put simply, to breathe clean air we need better air filtration
Active green wall indoor air filtration is a cost effective way to achieve high quality indoor air, while giving visual contact with natural elements (living green plants).
Twenty five years of research, building on the original NASA studies, has confirmed conclusively that healthy plants have excess capacity to clean the indoor air we breathe.
“I work in a modern air-conditioned building so why should I be concerned about indoor air quality.”
Air conditioning has enormous benefits for building occupants, providing a comfortable working environment, however ‘green air’ is usually not clean air.
Irrespective of the building’s ventilation system, location of the air inlets, or the building’s energy rating, ventilation “fresh air” that is, outdoor air, is generally contaminated, mainly with motor vehicle emissions that combine with a multitude of contaminants generated indoors from building materials and fittings, various operational activities, and surprisingly building occupants.
Fifty per cent of the air we breathe comes from the floor around us.
The one unchanging aspect common to all buildings and sustainable cities is the air we breathe. For building occupants, achieving high quality indoor air is non-negotiable. The benefits are improved quality of life for employees, tenants and building occupants. The key aspects common to all are health and wellbeing, environmental amenities and economic paybacks.
Best IAQ Practice
The aim should be to provide clean “breathable air free of all contaminants” bearing in mind that the only source of ‘fresh air’ is outdoor air, and we know how unpolluted that is.
So, what are we breathing?
Would you be OK with breathing air that contains the following chemicals?
Isoprene, acetone, ethanol, methanol, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, butane, cis- and trans-2-butene, 2-hexene, n-butyl alcohol, isobutyl alcohol, capryl alcohol, methyl isobutyl ketone, butyl acetate, ethyl benzene, indene, pentanal, and propanal. And these are just the normal constituents of human breath emissions.
So, in your workspace and your building you are breathing in (and out) these, and a multitude of other chemicals, with every breath you take.
Indoor Air Management
Indoor air quality is usually managed through a combination of source control, dilution ventilation and air cleaning.
There are no regulations on chemical emissions from commonly used building materials. De facto environmental certification schemes have been developed by industry associations that include material emission limits, but the legal standing of these certifications raise considerable doubts.
According to the U.S EPA “no-VOC” latex paint does not necessarily mean no emissions. Colouring tints contain high VOC levels, and linseed oil used as a drying agent in “low VOC paints” reacts with ozone, nitrogen oxides or hydroxides (usually from outdoor supply air) to form oxidation products that are potentially irritating or harmful to health.
“Fresh air” contains motor vehicle emissions, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene, aromatic chemicals that you also inhale when filling your car at the service station.
The conventional approach to improve indoor air quality is to dilute the pollutants generated continually by the building occupants, building materials and furnishings, but this substantially increases building operating costs, consuming as much as 30% of the total energy use, with little appreciable improvement in “breathable” air quality
We wouldn’t knowingly drink polluted water (with pollutant concentrations just below the level to cause adverse health effects) yet indoor air is considered acceptable “in terms of the absence of known contaminants and of concentrations high enough to cause adverse health effects“
Diluting contaminated water with more slightly less polluted water doesn’t make it fit to drink.
Conventional building air filtration doesn’t remove chemical contaminants and is required to remove only 40 – 60% of particulate matter to be code compliant. It was once described to me by an air conditioning engineer, as “only removing the pigeon droppings”, and is essentially designed to protect the air-conditioning equipment.
Active green wall air filtration – the ultimate air cleaner
High quality active green wall air filtration not only delivers substantial energy and costsavings, but also has a measurable effect on building occupant health and wellbeing andperformance improvement, with clean, pollutant free, high quality indoor air returned directly to the breathing zone.
Green walls are increasingly seen as an effective means of achieving some of these aims, with flexibility of location and a space-saving small footprint.
But what if this green wall was an efficient air filter as well, actively cleaning the air of pollutants, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), microorganisms, and delivering clean, pollutant free, high quality indoor air directly to the breathing zone?
Biofiltration and energy savings
The more functions that can be served by one design element, the more resource conserving and cost efficient the design. Bio filtration of the air circulating within the building envelope enables clean, cool air to be delivered, reducing the need for 20-30% outdoor air to be conditioned, saving commensurate energy costs, and contributing to thermal comfort by on average, a 0.5oC temperature decrease and a potential 10% RH increase.
Biofiltration complements the conventional air conditioning system by providing effective filtration of pollutants, rather than our respiratory system.
Operating 24/7 and strategically located, active green wall air filters can present an environmentally positive corporate image, while making a real difference in “breathable” air quality. Active green wall air filtration, a self-regenerating air filter solution, gives the option of minimum code-compliant fresh air rates while delivering high quality clean, fresh air to building occupants at low cost, with a less than 2 year payback, either incorporated into the building’s air handling system or as a free standing unit, ranging from room size to multi-storey.
“When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters” (American Lung Association)
While most companies quantify asset value on a balance sheet, the value at risk includes intangibles such as higher employee/tenant retention, healthier work environment, reduced liability/risk, Improved reputation/profile, and property brand differentiation, all factors proven to add asset value over time by reducing turnover and operational costs and improving a building’s reputation in the market.
Living green plants bring the breath of life, naturally.