Improving Air Quality Within the Workplace


With the pandemic persisting and level 5 restrictions remaining in place across Ireland for the next six weeks at least, the issue of indoor air quality has quickly risen to the top of the commercial property agenda. You can catch up on our article titled ‘Indoor Air Quality & the Importance of Real-Time Data for the Workplace’, published here last month


In practical terms, the quality of indoor air is generally poorer than the quality of the air outdoors. This is a very real concern for employees who are planning to return to their workplaces later this year. With this in mind, we have put together a list of tips that can help to improve the quality of air in your workplace:


– Firstly, before something can be improved it must first be measured. For this we advocate for the use of IoT indoor air quality sensors to monitor the quality of the air and make real-time information and insights available.


– Technology enables behavioural changes, for this reason, it is important to empower building occupants by giving them access to real-time air quality information. This allows teams to take corrective action as and when needed. 


– Despite the ban on smoking indoors, cigarette smoke can still be an issue as it lingers on people and their clothes. One important tip is to position any rack or stand for overcoats far away from the main work area. Also, it is important to move outdoor smoking areas away from main entrances, vents and operating windows.


– Ensure dust-free surfaces: Even in well-kept workplaces, there will always be people who allow dust (and so much more!) to build up on and around their desks and workspaces. Dust and other environmental pollutants contribute to indoor air pollution. Without sufficient ventilation, these tiny pollutants can trigger allergy symptoms in members of the team.


– While some chemical pollutants – including powerful cleaning products, perfumed aerosols or your co-workers’ hairspray –  can be obvious, the vast majority will not be so obvious. Hidden chemical pollutants may be emitted from building materials, furnishings and floor coverings. In fact, most commercially manufactured items emit chemical pollutants, including polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), polyurethane, formaldehyde, and VOCs.


– HVAC systems (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) should be inspected regularly to ensure sufficient ventilation and adequate distribution of fresh air throughout the entire area. Filters  must be changed regularly to prevent dust and other air pollutants from circulating back indoors. 


– Ventilation is key. Where possible, and depending on outdoor area quality locally, open the windows to allow outdoor air to enter the building. Also, air vents should be kept unblocked and unobstructed.


– One of the most simple, low tech, yet effective ways to improve indoor air quality is to introduce air-purifying plants to the workplace. These plants not only improve the quality of the air, they also help to reduce noise and stress levels within the work area.


About McKeon Group

Established in 1950 and ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The family-run Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact:

€45 Retrofitting Programme for Social Housing Announced 


Earlier this week, a press release was published on announcing a Retrofitting Programme for Social Homes, a resource allocation of €45 million to be invested into local authority housing. This announcement comes from the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke TD, and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan. The €45 million is due to be split in two strategies, with €35 million going towards the retrofitting of over 1,200 homes and €10 million towards various local authorities who “demonstrate an ability to complete additional work and spend their full allocation in 2021”. The Government has committed to changing the BER standard in nearly half a million homes to a B2 rating by 2030, with more than 36,500 homes of these being local authority housing. 


In 2020, it was understood that changes needed to be put in place if Ireland wanted to reduce its carbon emissions by more than 50 percent. The Programme for Government set itself ambitious targets to achieve these goals over the next ten years, driven by the data showing that – on par with global trends – nearly 40 percent of Ireland’s carbon emissions come only from the built environment, which is why the Government will be targeting homes first. Under the Energy Efficient Retrofitting programme, the retrofitting of these homes will benefit homeowners in more ways than one. Not only will this be helping the environment in terms of reducing air pollution, it will also make homes more comfortable, much easier to heat and more cost efficient all around. Home occupiers can expect to see a drastic change in their energy bills.


Minister Darragh O’Brien spoke out after this information was made public saying, “We are being realistic in our initial allocation and taking account of the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the works which can take place. We are taking an equitable approach ensuring that allocations are calculated on the basis of the number of social housing units each local authority has, as a percentage of the overall national stock, as well as the ability of individual local authorities to complete the programme and draw down all funding in 2021. This also ensures that those local authorities who have the capacity to deliver more are facilitated so that the 2021 retrofitting target of 2,400 homes is reached and the budget is spent.


Minister of State Peter Burke also adds that the retrofitting of these 500,000 homes will also create a high number of jobs within many local communities across Ireland, which could also play a vital role in the recovery of our economy after a challenging year for the industry.  


About McKeon Group

Established in 1950 and ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The family-run Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact:


Indoor Air Quality & the Importance of Real-Time Data for the Workplace

As lockdown 3.0 continues, commercial building owners and operators are turning their attention to preparing for the return of their teams to the workplace. This return is likely to be phased, tentative and not necessarily in 2021. This virus is less predictable than previously thought and there is a real fear amongst workers of returning to the workplace prematurely.


One of the big conversations happening is around indoor air quality. In Ireland, traditionally the focus was on insulation for heat retention rather than ventilation, however, as building practices and materials have improved in line with building regulations, the increased air tightness of our buildings requires a much greater emphasis on mechanical ventilation and well-designed air flow. While there has been a consistent move towards enhanced indoor air quality, the measuring or ongoing monitoring of this has been quite poor. Even where the systems and technologies were in place to monitor indoor air quality, the reporting tended to be periodic and therefore historic, rather than real-time. Also, despite most contemporary monitoring systems allowing for dashboards with tenant or occupant-access, this was not being used or relied upon. Unsurprisingly, since the spread of Covid-19, this has changed hugely. Not only are property owners and managers  paying more attention to the real-time monitoring of the quality of the air within their buildings, they are getting better at communicating these levels to building occupants. This communication will be key to restoring trust in the safety of our workplaces.

A recent US publication stated that indoor air quality could “spark or stall recovery” for commercial real estate. This is a bold claim to make considering the multifaceted approach required to make workplaces and all commercial properties safe. The thrust of the article was that consumers have always impacted on the profitability of commercial real estate through ever-spiralling demands, for example, an impressive lobby or reception area is not longer enough, building users are demanding an ever-increasing list of amenities and features.


Interestingly, we see that the features in demand by building users in 2021 go beyond the aesthetic and into the building operations, including air conditioning, heat exchanges and ventilation – all of which impact on the quality of the air within.


In Ireland, windows have routinely been considered adequate in terms of ventilation, resulting in ‘stuffy’ rooms and incidences of mould in the damp winter months. This will no longer be good enough for workplaces and the teams inside them. This shift was already happening, the pandemic placed some urgency around it. The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) is now recommending increased rates of direct fresh air supply and exhaust ventilation. Recirculated air systems and transfer of air from one occupied space to another should be avoided where possible. In practical terms, this means running ventilation systems at a higher volume rate than would ordinarily be necessary, and central ventilation systems with recirculation mixing boxes should be set to full fresh air and full exhaust to avoid any possibility of contaminants being recirculated into the space. Also, the use of recirculation fan coil units and split-type air conditioning units is to be discouraged unless there is an adequate source of fresh air, mechanical or natural, to the space.

We have written previously about the role of building ventilation in curbing the spread of COVID-19, link available here: 


About McKeon Group

Established in 1950 and ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The family-run Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact: