In the world of air quality, 2014 will be remembered as the year in which the leaders in professional sports began to emerge. Those leaders have included the Rolex Masters Cup and the World Golf Championship - HSBC Champions, part of the PGA Tour.
In both the Rolex and HSBC cases, the Player's Lounges were chosen to serve as air quality pilot projects, with the goal of maintaining RESET standards during the tournaments. These spaces also served as case studies for the supporting facilities including hotels and clubhouses, demonstrating what was possible and ultimately desired.
For the WGC-HSBC, the initiative was led by IMG's visionary event team; researching healthy indoor air strategies for players, staff, media and other participants. For the Rolex Masters Cup the initiative was led by Haworth, the innovative furniture giant that prioritizes health and wellness, with furniture serving as an enabler. In both cases the solutions were provided by PureLiving China, with equipment provided byPureAir Spaces.
Although PM2.5 continues to make headlines, the greatest challenges in creating short-term 'instant' clean air are actually CO2, TVOC (chemical off-gassing) and smart, automated responses. Interestingly, these are also the ones that will remain with us long after outdoor PM issues have been resolved… and not only in China. Maintaining low levels of CO2 is relatively simple but rarely ever achieved. It requires a good fresh-air system which is often non-existent, under-performing or unresponsive (meaning it does not respond to changes in the number of occupants). Chemical off-gassing is a far more endemic problem that is rooted in the chemistry of building materials and furniture. It will continue to plague us until the awareness and knowledge of end users, clients, designers and contractors increases.
Finally, one of the key limiting factors is ourselves. We are often too busy (or distracted) to respond to environmental changes in a timely way (probably the understatement of the millennium). The graph below is a case in point.
Outdoor vs. Indoor PM2.5 at the WGC - HSBC Champions: Air pollution took a turn for the worst in the first half of the WGC - HSBC Champions in Sheshan, with outdoor PM2.5 levels climbing to 150 (4 times above the maximum allowable health limit of 35 ug/m3). Meanwhile, measured indoor levels were about 75% lower. Yet, indoor PM2.5 still climbed to about 40 prior to staff adjusting the system and lowering levels down to about 15. Whereas automatic feedback systems have already been implemented in 'permanent' projects, they remain to be implemented for these types of events. In spite of this the outdoor PM2.5 average was 52.2 ug/m3 during the tournament, whereas the equivalent indoor average was 12.1 ug/m3.
Congratulations to IMG, Haworth, WGC - HSBC and Rolex Masters for pushing the boundaries of healthy interiors and moving the industry forward. As awareness continues to rise and participants continue to boycott, chances are others will follow.