Inventory waste in facility management practices: Implications on occupants’ discomfort

Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, November 2019, Volume 2, #83

Most odour problems and the inability of the facility managers (FM) to identify and eliminate the root causes of the problems are mainly due to poor design for maintainability. Poor design for ventilation and accessibility to different parts of a building are examples of poor design for maintainability. Ventilation is very effective in reducing odour in buildings. Easy accessibility aids effective investigation and remediation of odour problems in buildings. Poor design usually leads FM to adopt unhealthy practices. An example of such practices is the use of air fresheners to mask odour in buildings. Evidence in the literature suggests the adverse health and discomfort implications of building occupants being exposed to a high concentration of VOCs from air fresheners.

The use of air fresheners to mask permanent or reoccurring odour could lead to a high concentration of VOCs. Some facility managers, however, see air fresheners as an easy solution to improve indoor air quality, even if they could access different aspects of the building to investigate the source of the odour. Unfortunately, the seemingly pleasant smell from air fresheners could introduce harmful chemicals into indoor air directly or through indoor air chemistry. Vulnerable building occupants, children, elderly, people with history of respiratory problems or sensitivity to chemicals, are at risk of experiencing sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation, a sensation of dry mucous membranes, mental fatigue, headache, airway infection, cough, wheezing, nausea, and dizziness.

Spending resources to mask building odour or the flaws of not identifying or inability to discover the source of the odour is regarded as inventory waste in lean. Inventory waste leads to low FM productivity because of compromised safety, cost, and quality. The time needed to sustainably resolve the odour problem is also elongated. The understanding from this week’s issue is not limited to IAQ; it is also relevant to all aspects of FM practices.

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Do you want to know more about this topic? Read O’Neill et al. (1992) and Steinemann (2017) papers.

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