The Real Deal New York

Your office’s air could be making you sick

And now developers are changing the way they think about air

June 05, 2016 11:19AM

The Bank of America Tower was one of the first modern towers to take air quality seriously

The Bank of America Tower was one of the first modern towers to take air quality seriously

After construction costs, leasing and design, air quality was never even on the radar of most developers. But that has changed in recent years, following evidence that buildings suffer from a buildup of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

In recent decades, buildings have been constructed to be more airtight, because it makes them more energy efficient. However, builders have often failed to add sufficient ventilation to highly efficient buildings, which leads to a closed system where harmful pollutants build up in the air and are breathed day in and out by workers. It’s know as “sick building syndrome,” according to Newsweek.

Today, some developers and architects are focused on fixing the probem. Architectural firm CookFox designed One Bryant Park, better known as the Bank of America Tower, with special filters that suck out more than 95 percent of the bad air.

The firm is now designing a residential building in Manhattan (the address was not given by Newsweek) that features particle monitors that tell residents whether it’s safe to open their windows.

Other firms are experimenting with volatile organic compound (VOC) sensors. The sensors can decide when to draw in outside air and whether to clean it using high-tech chemical filters. And while technology like this is still relatively uncommon and expensive, mounting evidence connecting air quality and health means that in the future, air will be a primary concern for both developers and tenants.[Newsweek]Christopher Cameron

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