Five easy steps to improving workplace air quality

For occupiers, indoor air quality has been a concern for some time.  Our recent EMEA Office Occupier Sentiment Survey confirms that it still is with 50% of corporate occupiers highlighting indoor air quality as one of their key criteria in selecting buildings.

But it’s not just occupiers and their employees. Landlords and Facilities Managers have it firmly on their agenda as well, especially with the growing recognition that workplace air quality has a key role to play in promoting employee health and wellbeing.

But what are the impacts of poor workplace air quality?

Some studies show that it can reduce productivity by as much as 23%.¹ The effects can be seen in allergy flare ups, dry skin and bronchial illnesses, and we’ve probably all experienced the brain fog that comes from being in a poorly-ventilated meeting room for too long.² Employees are likely to underperform in an unhealthy work environment and probably won’t stick around long either.  It’s an issue employers recognise now but it’s also a concern for landlords and their facilities managers tasked with keeping buildings running effectively and efficiently

Now, real estate stakeholders are taking steps to create healthier workplace environments, with a focus on improving indoor air quality and improvements do not need to be cost prohibitive. 

Help is also available. Industry bodies like the British Property Federation have released guides aimed at commercial building owners, which define objectives for achieving better air quality.³

From our perspective we see five key steps to better work environments:

1.        Start with a holistic view

As Facilities Managers, we look at all aspects of the building – age, condition and use. Buildings more than five years old probably won’t meet best practice ventilation standards, so there’s a heightened risk. But also consider configuration, design, operation and the way the space is being used. This is crucial before making any decisions.

2.        Start with small changes

Small steps can result in big changes. Sometimes small behavioural changes like closing or opening doors and windows are enough to make a positive impact on indoor air quality. , Modest alterations to the building’s services such as re-balancing ventilation systems can have a big impact, and don’t cost much to do. CBRE Breathe is a service that uses analysis to help clients understand the factors influencing air quality, and then develops strategies to create healthy environments

3.       Use data

A small number of strategically-located indoor air quality monitors can provide real-time information about conditions in the office environment. Facilities managers can use this data together with other metrics on temperature, lighting and the like, to manage building systems proactively. 

4.       Display air quality measures

Sharing real time air quality data on employee apps or display screens demonstrates the  commitment to providing a healthy workplace, especially when coupled with swift action when conditions depart from the optimal. It gives the tenants the reassurance that the office environment is good for them.

5.       Get on the path to accreditation

Air quality monitors also have the added benefit of supporting accreditations such as WELL and RESET, and aligning to your ESG values and targets.

CBRE Breathe in action

We installed 41 indoor air quality sensors into one of our client’s European offices, equipping them with a dashboard displaying real-time data and key information to improve operational efficiency and achieve better air quality.

This initial step gave the client the confidence to invest in a smart building monitoring system, which consequently delivered $1 million of savings on energy costs over a five-year period. 

Taking small steps towards providing a healthy building is often enough to deliver improved productivity, greater employee satisfaction, and material energy savings. Cost shouldn’t be seen as barrier, but rather as an investment that pays dividends almost immediately.

If you would like to continue the conversation, please get in touch.


¹ Satish, et al. 2012. Direct Effects of Low-to-Moderate CO2 Concentrations on Human Decision-Making Performance. [].

² World Health Organisation. 2013. Health effects of particulate matter. 

³ BPF. 2021. The Indoor Air Quality Guide and Canvas


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CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBRE), een Fortune 500- en S&P 500-bedrijf met het hoofdkantoor in Dallas, is 's werelds grootste advies- en beleggingsbureau voor commercieel vastgoed (in termen van de omzet in 2021). De organisatie heeft meer dan 105.000 medewerkers en bedient klanten in meer dan 100 landen. CBRE biedt strategisch advies en begeleiding bij de aan- en verkoop en aan- en verhuur van vastgoed, corporate services, property-, facility en projectmanagement, taxaties, (her)ontwikkeling, investment management en research & consulting. Bezoek onze websites en