Sick building syndrome has a thoroughly deserved reputation for being one of the most dangerous, and often the most expensive, problems in commercial property ownership and management. Property managers are frequently driven to distraction by the sheer number of problems sick building syndrome can cause. In many cases the only defense against sick building syndrome without major surgery is industrial cleaning, but some buildings are so bad that even the best cleaning services can only make the place tolerable.
Sick building syndrome became notorious in the 1980s. Many owner of older properties found they had whole portfolios of sick buildings, a very expensive problem indeed. In many cases the solution was to simply tear down the buildings, but the problem of achieving better commercial building design remained.
Air-conditioning problems, ventilation, lack of natural light and antiquated building designs can cause sick building syndrome. The problem is that it’s not only the building that’s sick. “Sick building syndrome” quite literally translates into “sick people”.
Common problems include problems for both businesses and property management:
· Ventilation issues
· Stress-related issues
· Job dissatisfaction and related high turnover of staff
· Difficulty in retaining property tenants
· Cockroaches, rats, mice and other vermin
· Much lower rental values
· Litigation from tenants
The Green building approach
Fortunately, a cure for sick building syndrome now exists. New Green building architectural concepts are finding much better, cost-effective solutions to sick building syndrome.
The basic architectural concepts are pretty straightforward:
· Enhanced natural lighting and light management systems
· Improved environmental management
· Thorough analysis of the environmental needs of internal building areas
· Use of natural, sustainable building materials replacing toxic artificial materials
· Cost and energy efficient air-conditioning including allergen and humidity controls
The new Green approach has been a paradigm shift, effectively reversing the old building concepts. In Green building, the internal building environment becomes a sustainable environment:
· Building environmental management is based on integrated modern systems.
· Natural lighting provides a healthy detoxification effect for the workspace.
· Much better quality office and commercial materials like sustainable carpets last longer, improve the workplace environment and cost significantly less over their product lives.
· Improved ventilation and environmental controls greatly improve the general health of the environment, and in many cases provide a healthier environment than most people have in their homes.
· “Dead” spots in the building environment are eliminated at the planning stage. (In the old days, internal spaces out of natural light became repositories of mould, and were naturally unhealthy places to work.)
The result of the new Green architectural approach has been to turn what used to be a truly epidemic-level problem in commercial property management into a relic of the past. Thanks to CAD, and a generation of architects let off the leash from old building designs and their mistakes, the future of commercial property is looking a lot healthier than it ever did before.
It’s good news for office cleaning services, too. The new Green buildings, unlike the sick old buildings, can actually be cleaned properly, improving hygiene and making the workplace a safer, healthier place to work.
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