In a cold country like Canada, it’s a natural necessity for people to spend most of their time indoors, this is why indoor air quality (IAQ) must be a priority for building operators. This fact becomes more evident in the case of parkades.
People often don’t think about how the supposedly harmless parkades can affect indoor air quality and possibly threaten their health. But if you think about it, a parkade is essentially a sealed box into which potentially dangerous vehicle fumes are emitted 24/7. It makes you see parkades from a different perspective, doesn’t it?
Neglecting a parkade’s indoor air quality exposes occupants to potentially life-threatening fume levels. Owners, property managers, and condo boards risk legal and financial liability that can cost them millions of dollars in class-action lawsuits.
Building managers need to think about what they can do to ensure that building occupants are breathing clean air during the time they spend inside parkades. Following our previous analogy comparing parkades with a box, we like to see this as thinking “inside the box.”
Thinking inside the box asks managers to go beyond simply following the Alberta Building Code or any other applicable legislation, such as OHS guidelines. These guidelines do not cover the safety of parkade occupants, and also leave occasional building visitors vulnerable, especially children, the elderly, and people who are ill.
In order to help managers in their process of thinking inside the box, we at Gasonic developed six strategies they can apply to their building’s parkade to improve air quality:
Having an optimized ventilation system in your building helps stop the spread of pathogens and ensure the circulation of clean air throughout the facilities. Most buildings have their fan set to come on at 25 PPM of carbon monoxide. We recommend implementing a lower trigger level to ensure clean air.
We also recommend doing a ventilation assessment by a qualified professional to determine the ventilation effectiveness. More on that below.
It’s important to upgrade CO detectors to modern models that use electromechanical sensors. We also recommend installing a visible, reliable CO alarm that shows PPM levels, and is loud enough to alert everyone in the parkade to evacuate if there is danger.
We also recommend an air quality audit run by a qualified indoor air quality professional to determine ventilation system effectiveness, biological and chemical hazards, and any potential risks. This report should also include detailed preventive measures and recommendations to mitigate the risks found.
Many managers tend to give this responsibility to their mechanical contractor hoping to save money, but this exposes them to liability and that can cost them much more.
Hiring an IAQ specialist gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing all the possible risks are detected, all the health and safety requirements are met, and you have limited your liability if there is an incident.
One of the most effective steps managers can take is to educate their parking lot occupants and bring awareness about the dangers of idling and the importance of air quality to their safety. By simply posting visible signs about the health consequences of idling and the health hazards of breathing polluted air, you’ll be helping your occupants to help you ensure everyone’s safety.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are other pollutants we need to deal with in closed spaces like parkades. They are very difficult to remove and can put air quality and safety throughout the building at risk. Painting parkade walls and surfaces with air-purifying paint is a simple solution that will decrease VOCs presence dramatically.
Another way to help occupants help you is offering amenities for zero-emission vehicles. As more people choose electric cars, parkades will require charging solutions. By adding charging stations, you’ll keep your indoor air clean and safe.
By applying these straightforward strategies to improve parkade indoor air quality, building managers can take a proactive approach to protect themselves and their occupants. If you want to start taking care of your air quality by developing a robust safety plan, get in touch with us to get a personalized action plan.
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