RESET Certification: Active Measurement of Indoor Air Quality

Sam Carson, Director of Sustainability Innovation at Carbon Credentials writes about their work with Haskoll and Northern Rail to improve health and wellbeing in stations.
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January 25, 2019

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The health and wellbeing space is a rapidly evolving aspect of what constitutes a ‘green building’. It is a topic that landlords can engage and attract tenants on, going beyond the typical service level discussions to value-add concepts such as productivity, retention and engagement.

So, what are the first steps you can take in your existing buildings to improve wellbeing?

Improving buildings can be challenging, particularly for landlords, who typically have little control over how the tenant areas are fitted out. Indoor air quality, however, represents an opportunity for landlords to engage with tenants without the cost of significant refurbishment work.

A recent collaboration with JLL and Hermes Investment Management resulted in the certification of 33 Glasshouse St to the RESET Air Shell and Core indoor air quality. It is an example of a meaningful approach to demonstrating superior air quality in a Grade II listed building in Central London.

RESET is an indoor air quality certification from GIGA in Shanghai, which seeks to standardise the approach to measuring air, and certify spaces which maintain best practice, comes in two varieties:

  • RESET Air, Commercial Interiors, which measures the internal space within office areas, and would typically be implemented by a building tenant. This is designed for companies to make sure that the office experience and air provided to employees is aligned with best practice.
  • RESET Air, Shell and Core, which measures the air provided by the central plant across a building. This is better for landlords who typically have limited control over occupied areas to enable wellbeing programmes. This is a clear way for them to ensure that the quality of experience provided by the building is aligned with best practice.

For each of these there are specific rules regarding sensor placement and data benchmarks. For this blog we are primarily focused on RESET Air Shell and Core, however the principles of RESET Air are essentially the same.

Challenges with an active, real-time Indoor Air Quality monitoring programme

Active monitoring of the plant with a real-time tenant display is a technical challenge to implement. RESET is not an easy or straightforward certification to achieve because it is robust and evidence based. However, this structure provides meaningful outcomes. It does this by assessing five aspects which must be met to achieve certification:

  1. The RESET assessor must be a trained RESET Associated Practitioner (RESET AP).
  2. The sensors used in the installation must be of a specific quality. RESET tests and certifies these sensors in alignment with best practice for accuracy and maintaining calibration. Consumer grade sensors such as “Foobot” sensors are great for homes but not a commercial grade building, and RESET makes clear the differences.
  3. The data flows from the sensors at site and to a RESET Cloud certified database, which maintains data quality and fidelity but also ensures RESET can review daily values to ensure benchmarks are being met. Currently Carbon Credentials is one of three organisations in the world to have achieved this certification, and the only one in Europe. The RESET Cloud certification means our systems are transparent and have been tested to a standard which RESET agrees meets the criteria of their certification.
  4. The installation must be audited by a third party RESET AP to make sure the installation is documented and achieves RESET requirements.
  5. The data is assessed daily by RESET to ensure that the benchmarks are maintained. A data report is provided each month, highlighting missing data or failed days which do not meet RESET benchmark tolerances.

With these steps RESET provides a level of quality to measurement which is very ambitious but that means we can be certain that the air within the building is of a good enough quality.

Engagement and live dashboards

The real-time aspect requires that the data be available to building occupants in defined formats. The minimum requirements are that the data is presented in graphical format on a screen about the size of an iPad. In practice, we’ve had this on display in common areas, but also provided live data feeds on building portals, available to building occupants as they require.

A key part of this engagement is to make sure we address exceptions in such a way that people know they are being handled effectively. So, for each site, a remediation plan is made and this plan is then condensed as a part of the real-time engagement screens so that if there are issues with the data, occupants are aware of what is happening and know the issues are being taken care of.

Measurement and management

Measurement results in better management and with the central plant and supply of air typically under landlord control, active monitoring of indoor air quality provides oversight of a meaningful issue which landlords can control and improve. RESET Air Shell and Core allows landlords to demonstrate to tenants that the air provided is of an excellent standard. At Carbon Credentials, we like the idea of an evidence backed operational certification which can help to facilitate this complex discussion.

When implemented, the data provided through the RESET Air standard has improved how we operate buildings. In one building we were able to see the impact of recirculation, and improve controls so less Carbon Dioxide is being reintroduced to the occupants. In another, we were able to see the VOCs produced by the cleaning staff using toxic cleaning chemicals, leading to a change in cleaning products and a healthier environment.

Merits to a topic-specific approach to wellbeing

A topic specific approach has benefits and can accompany and integrate into other standards. RESET Air, for example, integrates into the Well Standard and can also support other building certifications.

Most importantly, it can be retrofitted relatively easily into an existing building to handle the specific issue of Indoor Air Quality, but provide a meaningful outcome which stakeholders can buy into. While it may only be about supporting air quality, for landlords this is a primary area where operations and hardware can improve or diminish the occupant experience.

For Carbon Credentials, RESET works for us because we believe that assessing Indoor Air Quality on an active basis is the best way of ensuring the air we breathe is the highest quality. Becoming RESET Cloud certified demonstrates our commitment to the active measurement, and to working with asset owners, managers and occupiers to deliver the operational improvement required to make buildings perform at optimum levels.

For more information about how RESET can work for your organization, please contact Carbon Credentials.