The Lungs of the City

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Posted by:
Jiri Skopek
Managing Director
Energy and Sustainability Services

Can buildings help solve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) problems and become the “lungs of the city”? 

China’s healthcare costs related to asthma and lung disease have grown exponentially. A September 2008 article in PEDIATRICS shows that outdoor air pollution is associated with more than 300,000 deaths, 20 million cases of respiratory illness, and healthcare costs upwards of 500 billion renminbi (more than 3% of gross domestic product) annually.

If buildings across China’s cities could act as an effective purification system for outdoor as well indoor air, there would be enormous health benefits which would translate into significant healthcare cost savings. The impact on public policy could be enormous.
Jones Lang LaSalle has teamed with Theodor Sterling Associates (Vancouver) and Green Buildings Services (Hong Kong) to develop and implement a unique Green Globes IAQ Module which assesses the current IAQ performance of the buildings and guides improvement through IAQ management practices.  A pilot project of Jones Lang LaSalle buildings in Hong Kong is underway.  
The preliminary results have shown that well run buildings can achieve indoor particulate matter levels less than a third of outdoor levels. This discrepancy got us thinking about how much particulate matter the building was removing from the ambient outdoor air.  We conducted further research that determined a building like this can remove 270 lbs (122.5 kg) of particulates from the ambient air per year. If all buildings in the city could be run that effectively, this would have a profound effect on health and associated costs.
This effort is being led by Steve Chan from the Jones Lang LaSalle Hong Kong team. We look forward to more conclusive and complete results from the Green Globes Indoor Air Quality module pilot in the near future. More to follow.

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