Building Air Quality January 2019

For Building Owners and Facility Managers BUILDING AIR QUALITY

281-448-1100 or TOLL FREE 866-367-1177 | | January 2019


Projects involving odors are not like other IAQ cases. They are some of the strangest cases I handle.

I recognize that I am an authority on indoor air quality (IAQ) issues. After 30 years, I better be! At the same time, I admit I am not the expert in strange and unusual odors. However, this hasn’t stopped clients from requesting the services of my nose. Recently, in the span of just 10 days, I received calls to take on four separate odor- related projects. One case involved sewer-like odors, another involved mold-like odors, a third involved vomit-like odors, and the fourth was undermined because the client mysteriously canceled their appointments. I’m always happy when clients refer me, but chasing odors is my least favorite IAQ activity. Projects involving odors are not like other IAQ cases. They are some of the strangest cases I handle. I’ve found sewage-like odors coming from new carpets, identified very offensive odors relating to cultural foods being reheated in the office microwave, and once, early in my career, I found a terrible odor coming from a certain type of coffee grounds interacting with the steam from an automatic coffee maker. The problem with odor projects isn’t the strange source or even the bad smell; it’s that 80 percent of the time when I arrive at the site, there’s no sign of the odor. Odors are often so sporadic they can be hard to track. If the cause is mold growing in insulated air conditioning vents, people might report the bad smell a couple times a day when the air kicks on. But if the odor is from someone heating up a certain kind of food, that might happen only once a week. If there’s no odor when I arrive, the best I can do is walk the area, find

out where people have been complaining and where there haven’t been any complaints, try to get people to tell me about what they’ve been smelling, and look for common problems. The fact that I can’t come in with an instrument to collect data on an odor project is extremely frustrating. There are no instruments available that can track an odor because there are too many possibilities that could cause a bad smell. Plus, the human nose is far more sensitive than any instrument out there. You and I will notice the presence of an odor long before any instrument would pick it up. After 30 years and many cases, I have enough experience to guess with some accuracy what might be causing the issue if I can’t smell the odor myself. But even once I’ve found the source, there’s no way to know for sure unless the odor never happens again. Of the three cases I mentioned earlier, I was able to confidently identify the source of two of them. In the third, the property manager thinks they solved the problem, but now it’s the waiting game.

Let’s be honest, I have considered telling everyone my nose is shot and I can’t do odors anymore. Sometimes it feels like I’m chasing ghosts. I went to a site four times within a week and a half, never smelling the odor myself but giving the property manager advice on what it might be. They thought they found it when I called 10 days later and there hadn’t been anymore complaints. Then two days later, the odor showed up again for 15 minutes. Any IAQ consultant worth their weight should have experience chasing odors, but don’t expect them to come in with a magic want to identify and resolve your issue in one fell swoop. It can’t be done because odors are so sporadic. When you have an odor problem, you literally have to follow your nose.

Protecting the Built Environment


281-448-1100 or Toll Free 866-367-1177

Clearing the Air Calling in an expert to deal with a bad smell can seem like overkill to someone who’s never dealt with an odor problem before. However, bad odors are a serious threat to indoor air quality and should always be taken seriously. Unpleasant odors can damage productivity, create a hostile work environment, and, depending on the source, be potentially harmful. When faced with an odor complaint, it’s important to identify the source as soon as possible. Here are a few common causes of bad odors in commercial buildings. Something on the Menu We’ve seen our fair share of bad odors caused by a tenant’s breakfast or lunch preferences. From pungent cultural foods to maple-flavored instant oatmeal, reheating meals in the company microwave can result in complaints from individuals who are sensitive to those smells. These kinds of odors are

Finding good employees has always been hard, but in the economic environment of 2019, it can feel downright impossible. At the end of 2018, U.S. unemployment was the lowest it had been since 1969. For months, unfilled jobs outweighed the number of people seeking employment. In a market where job seekers have the pick of the litter, employers face stiff competition when courting prospects. Here are three strategies to draw in top performers and keep them. 1. Pay more. Excellent benefits, fancy perks, and flexible hours are important items on any job seeker’s checklist, but virtually every prospect’s top priority is adequate pay. Workers today have unprecedented bargaining power, and yet, according to ADP, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees boosted wages only a little over 3 percent last year, an amount quickly swallowed up by inflation and increasingly steep living costs. There’s just no way around it. To attract top-tier talent, competitive compensation is paramount, especially in 2019. 2. Give new hires the chance to grow. The best employees constantly hunger for new growth and development opportunities. Show prospective hires the potential heights they can reach at your organization. First, your business has to have a growth mindset that promotes loyal employees and empowers them to step into exciting new roles. Then you need to present prospective employees with challenging, rewarding projects and responsibilities and show examples of how those who’ve come before them have succeeded. Annual reviews and raises are a start, but you should also explain how a job at your business will improve your prospect’s skills, career, and life. 3. Get them in the door. If you already offer a legitimately competitive salary, an expansive benefits package, and a good work environment with opportunities for growth, the only challenge left is to get on your ideal candidate’s radar. One of the best ways to do this is to implement an employee referral program. Ask your team if they know anyone who’d fit the empty role. If you end up hiring their prospect and they stay on the team for, say, six months, then reward the referrer. Cash, PTO, and other benefits will encourage your loyal employees to bring in their skilled friends.

harder to identity if you aren’t looking for the source of the odor right when the food is being heated. This is why if you get complaints about odors, it’s important to note when bad scents appear to look for a pattern.

HAVE A LAUGH WITH TRAVIS Bad Leftovers Forgotten food can also be a source of foul odors. Abandoned lunches in the company fridge can quickly turn into smelly science experiments. It’s wise to have a policy of throwing out all unclaimed food at the end of the week. Tenants who snack at their desk can also inadvertently create bad odors when a fallen piece of sandwich gets lost behind a desk or perishable snacks are left in their drawers.

2 Protecting the Built Environment


A Dry Trap The most common cause of a sewer or “rotten egg” smell in commercial buildings is a dry sink or floor drain trap. A trap is a U-shaped pipe that connects the drain to the sewer line. A small amount of waste water prevents sewer gases from coming up through the drain, so when the trap is dry, foul odors can be released into your building. Many times, running the water through the drain for a few minutes will solve the problem. However, a clog or leak may be causing the trap to lose water, so you might want to have a plumber come check the problem to be certain. Mold in the HVAC When mold is able to grow in an HVAC system, it can create problems throughout the whole building. Not only do mold spores spread around when the air turns on, they can also carry a bad smell through your building. It can be difficult to identify the source of the odor when the smell seems to be coming from all around you. Mold in the HVAC is a common problem, and building owners can save a lot of time if they check the HVAC first after getting odor

Why Your Business Goals Don’t Work At the end of the year, entrepreneurs sit down to develop their goals for the new year. They craft specific objectives based on best practices they learned from other leaders, implementing S.M.A.R.T. goals or strategic plans to give their company a clear path to success. But every year, perfectly crafted benchmarks fall by the wayside and join weight loss on the scrap heap of New Year’s resolutions. Owners scratch their heads wondering why they didn’t reach their target, not understanding the root cause of their failure. You can have the most carefully planned-out goals, but if you haven’t built a foundation on these three concepts, you’ll never achieve them. Organization Nothing derails a goal faster than ineffective systems and processes. Procedures aren’t dynamic, so as your business changes, an audit of processes isn’t just useful; it’s necessary. But as your business must continue to improve its organization in order to adapt to change, so do your team members. At the root of every system is an employee, so without teaching basic principles of time management and prioritization, those systems are limited in their capacity and effectiveness. Communication Negative external and internal relations are surefire goal-killers. Internally, the success of your company is dependent on the dynamics between team members, management, and leaders. Complacency and gossip tend to spread like wildfire and can cause a dip in productivity. External communication between partners and potential clients is very similar. Without clear expectations and mutual respect in relationships, your business will cease to scale. Customer Service Clients need to feel valued to have a future with your business, and that’s rooted in every interaction. Customer service is a broad term that is often miscategorized. In truth, every role is based on customer service, but many people go about it wrong by taking on the attitude of “It’s not my job.” Lack of ownership and willingness to serve customers in every capacity will undermine any long-term objectives your company may have. The good news is that with proper execution of these three concepts, you can focus on attaining your goals, and in the process, achieve levels of success you previously thought impossible. Don’t let your objectives for the new year fall by the wayside. Achieve those goals by rooting your business in organization, communication, and customer service.

SUDOKU Odors are some of the hardest problems to deal with when it comes to indoor air quality. The scents can be sporadic, making it difficult to identity the cause of certain odors. Hopefully, this guide can help you locate and address unpleasant odors in your building as soon as possible. reports. If the HVAC itself is mold-free, be sure to check the building’s insulated air conditioning vents as well. Mold can grow there too and cause odors throughout the building whenever the air kicks on.

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The Philosophy of Bill Walsh

‘The Score Takes Care of Itself’


The term “game changer” gets tossed around so much these days that it no longer seems to hold enough weight to describe a legendary coach like Bill Walsh. But how do you describe someone who quite literally changed the way football is played on the highest level?

One theme throughout the book is the idea that sound fundamentals trump instincts. As Walsh aptly puts it, “Hearing someone described as being able to ‘fly by the seat of his pants’ always suggests to me a leader who hasn’t prepared properly and whose pants may soon

But the most valuable element of leadership in Walsh’s eyes is how you treat the members of your team. You need to have the courage to let them know you believe in them. Using simple but earnest positive reinforcement, this legendary coach turned the 49ers into an incredible team, and the benefits show. Segments of the book contain anecdotes and reflections from players such as Joe Montana and Randy Cross, whose deep admiration for their former leader speak volumes. “The Score Takes Care of Itself” was published posthumously. Walsh’s son, Craig, did much of the legwork to piece this definitive portrait together. What we are left with is a truly insightful read from one of the most innovative, inspiring minds in sports history. It will be a long time before a book like this comes around again.

It takes incredible willpower to defy conventional wisdom and turn a struggling team into a powerhouse. In Walsh’s memoir on leadership, “The Score Takes Care of Itself,” he explores the philosophy that guided him through his coaching career and led him to success. Working with award-winning author Steve Jamison, the two distill Walsh’s decades of experience into a comprehensive

fall down.” For long-term success, you have to have a game plan. For Walsh, preparation for leadership begins by bracing yourself for the worst. A mantra repeated business and in football, losses are just a fact of life; how you prepare for and respond to these crises will determine your team’s success. throughout the book is “expect defeat.” In

guide that can be used by coaches and CEOs alike.

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