How facility managers transformed indoor air quality at Life Chiropractic College with Airthings for Business
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Life Chiropractic College West is a private college that specializes in teaching a ‘Doctor of Chiropractic’ degree program in Haywood, California. Over 600 students study at its campus, which spans 12 acres and includes a building covering 200,000 square feet.
The Director of Facilities and Auxiliary Services at the college, Michael Baldwin, says, “Part of being a chiropractic college is having a lifestyle centred on health and wellness.” With that ethos in mind, staff were especially concerned when suspected indoor air quality issues began to emerge.
For Dr Kerri Duggins-Rames, head of the college’s Air Quality Committee, ‘brain fog’ among the building’s users indicated that high levels of carbon dioxide could be a problem. “It started with symptoms,” she explains. “Symptoms I observed in myself and started to observe and overhear in my students.”
Long-term exposure to CO2 can result in reduced productivity, poor decision-making, and increased drowsiness and lethargy, so it is a major red flag in a teaching environment1. Indeed, research suggests that test scores rise and absence rates fall when indoor air quality issues are tackled2. It’s clear that indoor air quality and learning are linked.
Michael Baldwin confirms: "Recent studies have shown that when carbon dioxide levels exceed 800 parts per million on a regular basis it can impair your cognitive function.”
Staff and students at the Life Chiropractic College were concerned about indoor air quality issues and worried that their ability to function effectively was compromised as a result. But, they didn’t yet have functional data to prove what the problems were or understand what had to be done.
Finding a source for that information would be key to putting things right.
Life’s director of facilities, Michael Baldwin, was looking for a way to address the college’s air quality concerns when he came across the Airthings for Business at a trade fair for facility managers.
The Airthings solution links indoor air quality monitors to a hub that collects relevant data in real-time. This data is accessible through the Airthings dashboard, ensuring that both current and historical information is available at the touch of a button. The interface provides an overview of all rooms, floors, and locations in a facility, with automated alerts to let users know if conditions change or deteriorate.
After the system had been installed, it gave staff an invaluable source of data that highlighted problems in particular rooms on campus. The system provides actionable insights on indoor air quality for facility managers. As well as its affordability, Michael Baldwin emphasizes the solution’s functionality and user-friendliness, saying, “The product is very easy to use and you can get great function out of it.”
The college exploited detailed information on CO2 levels and occupancy to adjust which classes went to which rooms at particular times. This meant avoiding high CO2 levels and making optimal use of spaces according to their air quality.
Carbon dioxide data can also be a powerful tool for understanding the way a building is used. It reveals when locations are busy, providing insights into how resources like heat, lighting, HVAC, or even cleaning services can be used more efficiently and effectively.
According to Michael Baldwin, indoor air quality monitoring “also helps us justify upgrading equipment and the budgetary aspects of that.” Indoor air quality data highlights exactly where there are problems so that the right maintenance can take place right away.
After Life Chiropractic College West installed the Airthings for Business air quality sensors and the air quality data began to flow, the insights led to a transformation on campus.
Sagi Hebron, a student and member of Life’s Green Team, explains that the equipment highlighted problems with airflow in the building: “We got new HVAC units, which is a big deal. And using the Airthings monitors we can see the differences in the air quality.”
Data on carbon dioxide also allowed the college to change how it uses its spaces. Armed with a more detailed understanding of building occupancy, Life West was able to tweak its timetables to improve learning conditions for students.
According to Dr Kerri Duggans-Rames, the equipment makes a real difference to academic outcomes at the college. She emphasizes the importance of indoor air quality in education:
“Airthings for Business can help us maximize student performance, absolutely. Cognitive function can be affected. I’m talking about graduate students in an incredibly difficult graduate program. Every moment, every milestone, and every exam they need to be on point.
“A solution like Airthings is essential because we need to make these decisions based on data. We can’t wait for symptoms. [The students] need all their brain cells firing.”
“Airthings for Business has been very easy to work with,” facilities director Michael Baldwin added. “It’s the ideal solution”.
Sagi Hebron advises businesses, schools, and other institutions to “Try to figure out what the problem is in the building that’s causing it not to be a healthy building. Make the decision to get the Airthings monitors because, from what I understand, they are the best monitors for air quality that you can have.”