Indoor air quality monitor systems could help you breathe healthier air at home or work

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Friday, August 18, 2023
Air quality monitoring helps people breathe easier at home or work
Indoor air quality monitor systems for office and apartment buildings are becoming more common, and could help you to breathe healthier air.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Between the smoke from Canadian wildfires and COVID-19, air quality inside buildings where you work or live may be top of mind. Air quality monitoring systems, which are becoming more common, could be a step to breathing healthier air.

If you walk into real estate developer Sterling Bay's Fulton Market building, chances are you'll breathe in some pretty fresh air.

"In your house at home you probably have one filter, like one of the one's you see here. Here we have 192 of them," said Managing Director of Engineering Patrick Biesty.

Biesty said the air in this building is cycled every 10 minutes, and before the air goes through the highly efficient filters, it's sucked in from outside into a loud, chilly, windy room.

Workers can see the real-time air quality in monitors in the lobby, elevators and other screens throughout the building. The screens show the air quality levels outside and inside the building.

"We wanted to find a method or a way to share with our tenants what we were actually doing because they were asking us questions about indoor air quality," Biesty said.

Sterling Bay uses this technology in all eight of its Chicago buildings and others across the country.

Biesty said the filtration techniques and ventilation also help weed out viruses.

"There's an onus on us to do that, and I think more and more consumers are going to look for that data, particularly in light of hopefully at the tail end of COVID here as we go forward," he said.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set higher recommended standards for ventilation in occupied spaces including offices. And the air purification market is now a $13 billion industry.

The I-Team has reported on other local businesses working to keep the air clean for workers, including a Fulton Market office building developed by Parkside Realty which uses an indoor cleansing system like the ones used in hospitals: a gas form of hydrogen peroxide is released in low amounts. The building also has hands-free elevators and antimicrobials baked into the ceramic bathroom surfaces.

There are dozens of air quality monitoring systems on the market, which other buildings in the city may be using, and more could be on the way.

You may want to ask your workplace or apartment building what kind of systems they are using.