Indoor air can contain a number of pollutants if it’s not carefully monitored and treated. Smoke, mold, and chemicals used in certain paints, viruses, and bacteria can linger in poorly ventilated spaces and cause a range of health issues. Contagious diseases, including the flu and COVID-19, can also spread quickly indoors.
At Salesforce, the health and safety of our buildings is an important pillar of our real estate strategy and we’re committed to keeping everyone who comes into our spaces safe. We’ve been on a journey to improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) in our buildings over the past several years and we’ve learned quite a bit through the process.
Our journey to improved air quality
We started thinking about the air in our spaces more deeply a few years ago. Wildfires ravaged the West Coast of the United States and many of our employees saw our spaces as a refuge from poor air quality at home and outdoors. We took steps then to upgrade air filters and increase ventilation to make sure we were providing spaces with clean air.
When the pandemic started, we examined the air in our offices with a new lens. This time, we evaluated each of the buildings in our global real estate portfolio. We conducted detailed assessments of our HVAC systems, reviewed mechanical drawings of our buildings, and interviewed building engineers. Based on what we found, we created a new indoor air quality action plan to improve the clean air in our buildings and make updates in each office site on an individual basis.
How we created an indoor air quality action plan
Our IAQ action plan enabled us to optimize for fresh air ventilation and enhance air filtration, sensors, and cleaning:
- We upgraded air filters, ensuring they were MERV 13 or better, and increased the amount of fresh air flowing through our spaces to meet ASHRAE standards.
- We extended our HVAC operational hours by four hours in the evening and four hours prior to opening in the morning to add extra time to filter clean air between shifts.
- We enhanced the air sensors in our offices to track particles beyond carbon dioxide, including ozone, temperature, and humidity.
- We added standalone air purifiers in all conference and meeting rooms where close interpersonal interactions are most common.
- We revisited our design standards to ensure everything in our offices — from the paint we use to the plants we choose to decorate with — helps create an oxygen-rich environment.
In addition to making these upgrades, we pursued industry certifications to signal our commitment to creating safe spaces. In May 2021, we achieved Fitwel Viral Response Certification for our approach to mitigating the spread of contagious diseases across our global real estate footprint. Today, we’re actively working to achieve Fitwel VRM certification across our major office sites around the world.
How Salesforce advocates for cleaner air
While wildfires and the pandemic brought the issue of clean air into focus, the conversation around IAQ is still in its infancy. Last month, I had the opportunity to join the White House Summit on Indoor Air Quality — an important discussion on how the public and private sectors can work together to improve indoor air so more individuals can benefit from its health protections. Salesforce is also proud to have signed onto the White House’s Clean Air in Buildings Challenge to help further this work.
For companies ready to commit to cleaner air in their buildings, there are a number of free technical resources available. The ASHRAE Epidemic Taskforce has released guidance for building owners, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has published a quick-reference guide for small businesses, and the Environmental Protection Agency has a list of resources available at no cost.
Businesses, governments, and individuals alike must continue to focus on this work to ensure everyone has access to clean air. Together, we can help all who walk through our doors feel safe, healthy, and productive.
To learn more about Salesforce’s commitment to healthy spaces, read this post.