This is why filtering CO₂ is better than increasing ventilation in office buildings
Carbon dioxide (CO₂) levels in the atmosphere have surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) and are expected to rise in the future decades. Due to fossil fuel combustion, transportation, and climate conditions, carbon dioxide levels in metropolitan areas can be significantly greater than the earth’s average. In a study conducted by Kim et al. in Shanghai in 2019, carbon dioxide concentrations on traffic roads were found to be around 550 ppm, whereas pedestrian roads had a lower concentration of around 435 ppm.
Carbon dioxide levels in our buildings have typically been used as an indicator for overall air quality and flow rates, rather than as a contaminant. High indoor carbon dioxide concentrations, on the other hand, have recently been recognized as having a negative impact on our cognitive function score and our brain’s performance at work or school. The maximum safe carbon dioxide level indoors, according to research and national recommendations, appears to be approximately 800–1000 ppm, but some symptoms can appear at levels as low as 500 ppm. When it comes to lost attention and efficiency, the costs of poor performance can be enormous.
Furthermore, some indoor ventilation and carbon dioxide level management standards and procedures are based on flow rates computed from variations in indoor and outdoor carbon dioxide concentrations, using a 350 ppm outdoor concentration assumption (a level we passed decades ago).
When all of the above factors are considered, we can easily end up with more carbon dioxide in indoor air now — and considerably more so in future cities.
Current ventilation technologies are insufficient to keep indoor carbon dioxide levels low enough for ideal circumstances, particularly when outdoor carbon dioxide concentrations have increased.
Simply increasing the flow of incoming outdoor air and replacing the inside air with fresh air is one way. This is an increasingly difficult task, especially when the outdoor air isn’t particularly fresh, due to the aforementioned factors. Additionally, boosting external ventilation can increase energy use significantly. Aside from the energy required to transport the extra air, significant energy is required to heat or cool the entering air. In cold or hot and humid weather, this thermal demand is greater.
Ventilation units typically have a maximum performance surplus of 20%, which is insufficient to compensate for even the difference caused by atmospheric carbon dioxide elevation. To have a proper effect on increasing indoor carbon dioxide levels, ventilation velocity would need to be increased by 50–100 percent. Higher ventilation speeds would result in higher noise levels and a drafty feeling. Coworking facilities as well as the current trend of adding open workplaces, cram more people into less space, exacerbating the problem.
Carbon dioxide concentration in ventilation air has to be reduced. If the carbon can be captured from the air, there is no need to bring in extra air from outside or spend energy to warm or chill it because the carbon dioxide level in the incoming air has been reduced, as it has been captured already. Low carbon dioxide levels can ensure that people have the greatest possible working environment.
People who are high performers prefer high-performance buildings. According to the Worldwide Wellness Institute, the expense of sick workers accounts for 10% to 15% of yearly global economic output. A high-performing, healthy workplace, on the other hand, can increase employee engagement and productivity.
Soletair Power — one carbon capture technology company in Finland is doing this carbon capture in buildings. Their technology captures CO₂ from the building air ventilation in buildings. Their compact, sleek and modular-designed air-capture products efficiently capture CO₂ from the indoor air by turning buildings into carbon sinks. Reduced carbon dioxide indoors increases human cognitive functions and makes people more and more productive in offices. That in turn leads to a happier workplace and more output.
The direct air capture company Soletair Power from Finland, has already been featured in CNBC’s Sustainable Energy Show, got mentioned in The Guardian, BBC, The Wall Street Journal, ARS Technica, Sifted, Gulf News, Helsingin Sanomat, YLE, and so on. They are called the Carbon ghostbusters who turn buildings into CO₂ capturing machines.