JEG Tower Focus: MERV and Fresh Air System for Optimal Indoor Air Quality

Commercial buildings and public spaces play a huge role in the spread of diseases in communities. Offices are even identified as one of the locations where viruses spread quickly in a matter of hours given the amount of time employees spend inside these shared spaces. This fact is also supported by numerous studies that found germs, viruses, and disease-causing bacteria can travel through indoor air and circulation within said spaces. 

Similar to other enclosed areas, the circulated air inside offices can carry microbes through the building’s HVAC systems. Dr. Ali Khan, an epidemiologist and professor at the College of Public Health UNMC at the University of Nebraska, emphasizes the importance of indoor air quality, filtration systems and its maintenance. 

“The maintenance of HVAC systems and air filtration have an impact on how contaminants flow through the air,” Khan said. “If one person is sick, he or she could spread the germs through coughing and sneezing, touching surfaces, and contacting others closely. Even staying at their private desks, germs can also be spread by the flying droplets which settle on any surface and cause contamination”, she added. 

RELATED: Optimizing Buildings for Disease Prevention 

As a LEED-certified building, JEG Tower @ One Acacia improves the indoor air quality of the building from start to finish. It is designed and constructed to the highest standards for health and cleanliness, effectively reducing its tenants’ risk of exposure to harmful elements in the environment. 

From the construction phase, JEG Tower observes the Construction Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Management Plan. This measure is implemented by LEED-certified buildings to protect its HVAC system during construction, control pollutant sources, and interrupt pathways for infection. It also guides the sequence of installation of materials to avoid contamination of absorptive materials such as insulation, carpeting, ceiling tile and gypsum wallboard. 

READ MORE: How Green Buildings Improve Indoor Air Quality and Provide A Healthier Working Environment 

The 22-storey commercial development also utilizes the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values or MERV filters that can capture particles in the air from 0.3 and 10 microns (µm). Higher value in MERV ratings leads to better filtration, fewer dust particles and other airborne contaminants. JEG Tower utilizes the MERV13 filter which is one of the highest-grade filters in the industry. It promotes a healthy breathing environment, and it will not allow the growth of bacteria, mold, mildew, or fungi. Some MERV filters can even filter pollen, dust, and microscopic droplets in the air to a certain extent. 

JEG Tower @ One Acacia also implements the Fresh Air System. Fresh air is added to a heating or cooling system to achieve two indoor air quality goals: pressurize the building and increase in indoor air. According to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), building occupants with little or no access to fresh air end up being more exposed to pollutants indoors compared to when they go outdoors. HVAC systems tend to circulate and recycle old air rather than drawing new and fresh air from the outside. 

It is vital to understand the importance of indoor air quality and how air conditioning systems work in optimizing the safety and protection of the building’s occupants. Committed to providing safer spaces in Cebu, JEG Tower @ One Acacia invests in the latest technology and follows the highest industry standards that set people’s health and wellbeing as top priority. 

Aiming to be the best place to work in Cebu City, JEG Tower prioritizes its occupants’ welfare by subscribing to the highest standards in the industry. This Grade A green building has achieved LEED BD+C: Core and Shell precertification at the Silver level, and will continue to earn more LEED points as it finishes construction in 2020. 

What is a ‘Healthy Workplace’?

A healthy workplace is an ideal place to work in. According to some research on employee behavior, one of the top three factors that employees look for in a job is a company’s commitment to health and wellbeing of its employees. This is given more emphasis as the world transitions to the new normal, giving a deeper definition to what a healthy workplace should look like.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently published a document defining what a healthy workplace should be, post pandemic. A healthy work environment is a balance of occupational health and safety, as well as health promotion efforts and initiatives. While there may be varied qualifications and qualities, the WHO has consolidated its concrete definition: 

“A healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of workers and the sustainability of the workplace by considering the following, based on identified needs.”  

 Physical Work Environment 

Businesses can provide a healthy workplace by ensuring that the physical work environment is set to the highest industry standards and criteria. An ideal physical work environment ensures that the design and layout of the workplace is optimal for the comfort, productivity, and motivation of its employees. 

RELATED: Optimizing Buildings for Disease Prevention 

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) found that potential employees prefer working in an office located in a LEED-certified building, where their health and wellbeing are considered to be top priority. The same study found that workers based in a LEED-certified green building are found to be more satisfied on their job, and that 79 percent of the respondents agree that they would choose a job in a LEED-certified building over a non-LEED building. 

Uplifting health and safety in the physical work environment should cover indoor air quality, ventilation, maintained optimal humidity, and industry standard protocol for cleaning and maintenance. 

 Psychosocial Work Environment  

A healthy workplace should go beyond physical modifications and provide greater support to employees to their psychosocial needs. The 2018 Global Talent Trends survey found that one in two employees would like to see a greater focus on well-being at their company especially on the physical, psychological and financial wellness of its employees. 

A company’s culture contributes a huge role on the WHO’s definition of a healthy workplace. Programs organized and initiated by a company to promote healthy habits and uplift the general wellbeing of their employees should be holistic—providing focus not just on their physical wellbeing but looking after their mental health as well. One study also raises the issue of psychosocial hazards in the workplace that should be addressed by companies to promote a healthy workplace. These may include organizational culture and the attitudes, values, beliefs and daily practices, that can contribute as stressors to employees. 

Community Health and Wellbeing 

An ideal and healthy workplace is not bound by physical workstations and office floors, but should encompass communities. Providing a workplace setting that uplifts and prioritizes the overall health and wellness of its employees creates a huge impact on public health and vice versa. As active members of the community, employees who spend the majority of their day working in their offices should be in a work environment that ensures their holistic safety and wellbeing. 

RELATED: The Importance of Public Health in Communities 

Premium green buildings, such as JEG Tower @ One Acacia, invests in the well-being of its building occupiers by addressing health and wellbeing in a holistic approach. By following industry-set standards and optimizing building design and operations, it is one of the most ideal locations to work in Cebu City. JEG Tower puts a premium on their health, while practicing sustainability and energy efficiency. 

How Green Buildings Improve Indoor Air Quality and Provide A Healthier Working Environment

The campaign for cleaner air has been ongoing for years as the world battles air pollution. As the global health crisis continues, studies have been linking the spread of the pandemic with the bad air quality According to research from Harvard University, dirty air makes any virus more lethal.  

Working with different sectors, the World Green Building Council (WGBC) has long been combatting global air pollution by developing and setting standards for buildings and infrastructures. According to the World Green Building Council, now more than ever, green buildings play a very significant role in preventing and controlling viruses within communities and work environments.

The WGBC believe that sustainable buildings and cities are a key part of the solution that ‘reduces both the health and environmental impacts’ of air pollution. The organization has set guidelines on how green buildings can ensure the best indoor air quality within the property’s premises. In fact, one of the categories and criteria for a LEED Certification is indoor air quality. 

“Indoor air quality is one of the important criteria of LEED. It focuses on designing the ventilation and air-conditioning system to provide clean air into the building,” Michael Glindro, LEED AP BD+C said. “One of the ways to improve indoor air quality is to install high-MERV filters to reduce indoor air pollutants. This criterion focuses on the People aspect of the triple bottom line of LEED; People, Planet, Profit.

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LEED-certified buildings, like JEG Tower, were designed, constructed, and operates to high standards for health and cleanliness, they reduce the risk of exposing its tenants to infection, effectively preventing the spread of the virus within the building.  

USGBC requires green buildings to control the collusion of air and pollutants as well as the exhaust backflow of kitchens and bathrooms. Green buildings are also designed to set up effective water seals to reduce the risk of virus transmission through drainage pipes, optimizes the building space and plane layout to enhance the effectiveness of natural ventilation. Green buildings can also regulate and control air conditioning systems by zones and have a well-designed site wind environment for the dissipation of viruses and harmful gases.  

RELATED: In Focus: Cebu to Launch its first Sustainable ‘Smart Building’ Soon 

As regulated by the WGBC, green buildings are designed to regulate the water and air quality, fitness and antibacterial function building materials to promote occupant’s health to reduce the risk of getting the disease and enhance the ability to resist viruses.   

JEG Tower in Cebu uplifts the health and wellness of its tenants. Committed to revolutionizing work and life balance, the building has designed office spaces to maximize the use of natural daylight, allow better airflow within the space, and organize initiatives to encourage healthier living for everyone. 

RELATED: JEG Tower @One Acacia: Bring Work to Life this 2020 

Aside from protecting its tenants from virus cross-infection and improving their health, better indoor air quality also upgrades the working environment for office buildings. 

“Improving indoor air quality has been shown to increase business productivity through being a factor in reducing absenteeism due to health issues,” Glindro said. “After all, we do spend a majority of our day in the office so taking steps into creating a healthy work environment will benefit the triple bottom line.” 

Premium green buildings emphasize the importance of uplifting the quality of life of its tenants by ensuring that the highest standards for health and safety are observed and followed.