U.S. Economic Recovery May be Driven by Increased Demand for Indoor Air Quality
With real-time data available in almost every other aspect of their personal lives, consumers have come to expect data-driven insights to help inform their daily decision-making. Consumers are now paying close attention to indoor air quality (IAQ), which will inevitably drive demand for such information. Building owners must not only ensure their buildings can adequately deliver safe IAQ, but they must also effectively communicate their efforts and the impact of those efforts to their occupants in order to drive occupancy and economic recovery.
Carbon Lighthouse, an energy savings-as-a-service company for commercial real estate, recently announced the results of an insights survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers to better understand their sentiment around IAQ, and the impact of these perceptions. The results reveal that a vast majority – 91% – of consumers believe that IAQ is important in the prevention of COVID-19 spread. Consumers are taking this into account when considering re-entering public buildings, with 76% saying that a ‘rating system’ on the IAQ of a building – similar to restaurant ratings – would help them feel better about entering that building. These results underscore the need for building owners and operators to quickly address consumers’ very real and growing concerns around IAQ as part of reopenings during the winter months, to drive economic recovery and build long-term business resilience.
“Consumers are setting the tone now. It’s clear that real-time indoor air quality information is critical to rebuilding consumer confidence and will play a critical role in the economic recovery from the devastating effects that COVID-19 has had on businesses,” said Matt Ganser, EVP of Engineering and Product at Carbon Lighthouse. “Democratizing data on a building’s IAQ will empower consumers with the insights they need to make informed decisions about the buildings they enter and the impact on their health and safety, ensuring a quicker return to indoor spaces.”
With rent and the viability of businesses at stake if public buildings aren’t able to address IAQ, it’s good to know that the science in addressing the challenge is clear. With the right data on airflow and ventilation, building owners can ensure that COVID-19 mitigation measures have the desired effect and can confidently convey that to its occupants. To achieve this, however, buildings must be equipped with the right management systems and technology to provide the insights that consumers need.
Investments in a healthier building will pay off long-term. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates improving IAQ in offices could add as much as $20 billion annually to the U.S. economy, while Harvard Business Review estimates the benefits of higher ventilation to be between $6,500 and $7,500 per person per year in employee productivity. These insights will drive tenants to actively seek healthier buildings for their employees as they plan their economic recoveries.
Beyond the immediate need to rebuild occupancy in the face of COVID, addressing IAQ can serve as the tip of the spear for a larger, much-needed modernization of our indoor spaces.
Notable insights from the Carbon Lighthouse survey include:
- 89% of consumers are aware that viruses are transmitted through the air.
- 64% of those that weren’t aware were 21-34 years old, indicating a lack of awareness about IAQ and airborne transmission among Millennials and Gen Z.
- 72% said they’re at least somewhat likely to use an app or website that provides information on a building’s IAQ.
The survey also revealed insights for hotels, offices, and schools:
- 77% of consumers said proof about a hotel’s IAQ would impact their decision on where to stay.
- 52% said they would pay more to stay at a hotel with better IAQ.
- 74% said that having information on IAQ would make them feel more comfortable with returning to the office, at least part-time.
- 66% of consumers said that information on a school’s IAQ would impact their confidence that it is safe to return.
Download the full Carbon Lighthouse data report at bit.ly/2WsLkgB.
Want to read more? Our June 2020 blog, “Could Indoor Air Quality Become Part of the Post-Coronavirus Playbook?” is a great place to learn best practices for making buildings healthier.