Improving health and well-being with microbial friends
Both pilot cases in building specifications and conditions showed an unprecedented challenge to start our research within a real-life environment. As the results show we conclude the test with some astonishing results.
Key findings (all details below):
- Increased indoor microbial quality (30%)
- Lowered dominance of indoor pathogens (20%)
- Two-fold increase of beneficial organisms present.
- A more diversified indoor microbial landscape
- A drastic drop in fungal load for the building (64%)
With TakeAir we are building healthy HVAC systems. That means dispersing beneficial organisms in a high performant and clean system, delivering an inclusive service to all. Acknowledging that our HVAC system should be used to our fullest advantage we are including the health benefits it should provide: The good of nature.
Maturing the curve for health and wellbeing in buildings: Biospheric Air Treatment
Nowadays, most office buildings are like sealed vessels isolated from nature and its microbial biodiversity. By keeping natural commensal microorganisms outside, we have created plenty of “free seats” for pathogens to get comfy (principle of competitive exclusion).
By connecting technology, biology and nature we were able to create a more natural, balanced, and beneficial indoor environment where people can thrive.
When we use BioRemediation for the air we breathe we invite beneficial organisms to these seats and create a more balanced and safe indoor climate for everyone. With our add-on Flow Gate technology, we offer a full system in which a natural -viral and anti-microbial gate is built to catch and kill incoming and recirculating pathogens in the central HVAC.
The case for biodiversity in the built environment
Biodiversity in the built environment is a crucial aspect of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations for businesses. As the built environment is responsible for nearly 30% of global biodiversity loss, companies must address the impacts and dependencies of their operations on nature. As such, it is vital to set targets for preserving biodiversity, draft stricter policies and promote the integration of biodiversity into ESG programs and initiatives.
By acknowledging the importance of indoor biodiversity, we first impact the health and well-being of the occupant. By gaining these positive efforts we set out a clear promote and preserve tool to shift focus on the outdoors. But the case for indoor biodiversity is far more reaching than we can imagine today.
According to the EPRA (The European Real Estate Association), the business case for a healthy building is immense and presents clear advantages towards every stakeholder. Improving microbial biodiversity is at the frontier of making this reality.
- A significant body of research has demonstrated the role of air quality in workers' well-being and productivity. In 2014 The World Green Building Council presented a compendium of case studies which pointed to productivity enhancements of up to 11% thanks to high indoor air quality measures.
- The benefit for landlords and tenants lies in the cost associated with people using and occupying the building (e.g. staff costs in salaries and benefits). If an organisation can increase its employees’ productivity by 5% or at least just reduce absenteeism and sick leave by 5%, this can easily cover the real estate costs of that business.
- A healthy and productive building-user experience will also flow into a much more attractive market proposition, with positive impacts on rental value and tenant retention. A survey of 200 Canadian building owners, presented by the World Green Building Council, found that: 38% of those who reported increased value said that healthy buildings were worth at least 7% more than normal ones, 46% said they were easier to lease, and 28% said they commanded premium rents.
In conclusion, preserving biodiversity in the built environment is an essential ESG consideration for businesses. Incorporating biodiversity into ESG programs, ESSG leaders, and initiatives will help regenerate nature, halt biodiversity loss, and design nature-positive business models, providing long-term benefits to both society and the economy. Our pilot cases show that altering the indoor microbial landscape with beneficial organisms has a direct impact on indoor biodiversity and therefore health and well-being.
Preservation of biodiversity instils a sense of happiness in our human nature. In the economical long run focusing on biodiversity provides us with well-being by ensuring food, water, a stable climate, equitable supply chains, medicine, and more.
Pilot cases results
The indoor Microbial quality of Pilot Case 01 has substantially improved by 31% since the installation of the Biospheric Air Treatment in April 2022. The microbial analysis of air samples collected in April 2022 showed five indoor locations classified as bad or moderate according to the NEN-EN 13098:2019, whereas air sampling in December 2022 revealed only one indoor location of moderate indoor air quality.
A comparison of the concentration of the two main indoor air contaminants (Micrococcus and Aspergillus fumigatus) before and after the installation of the Biospheric Air Treatment, showed that the health hazards due to exceeding the number of the two mentioned above contaminants have drastically dropped or eliminated in the period between April and December.
Although beneficial organisms (Bacillus sp.) were abundantly present in the outdoor air in April 2022 (reference sampling), these beneficial bacteria were not detected in the indoor air of the pilot case 01 building. After the activation of the Biospheric Air Treatment, the beneficial organisms (Bacillus sp.) were found on all floors of the building, especially in samples collected from the air exiting the air duct.
The indoor microbial biodiversity of the Pilot Case 01 building is more in balance, which is a more natural and desirable state than we found in April 2022. The microbial analysis performed in December 2022 showed that the introduction of the beneficial bacteria via the central ventilation system has contributed to decreasing the dominance of Cladosporium, Staphylococcus and Micrococcus by over 20%, thereby increasing the microbial biodiversity in the pilot case building.
Pilot case 02 is located in a heavily polluted area with a very low presence of Biodiversity. This means that pollution and elements such as infectious bacteria are to be more present than to be expected from non-polluted environments. Measuring is therefore crucial in understanding how can improve the indoor environment.
The indoor Microbial quality of Pilot Case 02 has substantially improved by 32,4% since the installation of the Biospheric Air Treatment and implemented recommendations. The microbial analysis of air samples collected in April 2022 showed nine indoor locations classified as bad or moderate according to the NEN-EN 13098:2019, whereas air sampling in December 2022 revealed we have zero indoor locations with bad or moderate samples.
The outdoor concentration of fungus in April 2022 showed the same levels as in December 2022. After activation of the Biospheric Air Treatment and maintenance of the HVAC, we see a drastic drop in fungal load throughout the building. Fungal concentrations did not exceed the “safe levels” according to the NEN-EN 13098:2019.
We found that a high concentration of fungal spores is linked with the distance from the AHU; the closer to the air inlet and filters (floor 0) the highest the fungal load, and consequently the furthest measured point (floor 2) the lowest concentrations were found. This trend was also observed for the samples collected in December 2022.
The goal of Biospheric Air Treatment is to limit the abundance of dangerous airborne pathogens and increase the number of beneficial and commensal bacteria. The relative abundance of beneficial organisms (Bacillus sp.) was nearly two-fold higher in samples collected in December 2022 in comparison to the samples analysed in April 2022.