Q&A: Does the RESET Air Standard protect me from COVID?

October 12th, 2020 12:00

Last week, I received an excellent question from Antony Slumbers of Real Innovation Academy that I want to share:

If you were in a building that follows the RESET Air Standard and is operating as it should, would the ‘systems’ protect me from infection if a colleague was COVID positive? Does great air quality (and had a good amount of ventilation) alone mean I am ‘safe’?

The simple answer is no.

If a colleague is COVID positive, the likely way that they will transfer COVID to you is via leaving airborne particulates or aerosols containing COVID in the air via speaking or coughing. Therefore, if there is a colleague in the office that is COVID positive, there is no way to guarantee being completely ’safe’ aside from isolation.

In the scenarios where you’re not sure if a colleague has COVID, the best you can do is to lower the risk of transmission. There are currently two main ways of lowering the risk of transmission:

  • The first one is masks. The reason why masks are so effective is it limits the number of COVID particulates in the air by catching it inside the mask.
  • The second one is dilution. The potential of contracting COVID is based on dosage, or how many COVID particles enter your system. Spaces that have stagnant air where if someone coughing or speaking can leave the COVID airborne particulates in place for longer periods of time in high density are the most dangerous. That’s why outdoor environments have a much smaller chance of transmission because the air gets diluted immediately.

What great indoor air quality does is it lowers the risk of transmission from the air quality perspective. Good air quality means the air is clean from pollutants, which is achieved via filtration and/or dilution by bringing in filtered outdoor air. Good air quality also means stronger immune systems for the people inside, which will help to decrease the risk of transmission.

The RESET Air Standard provides a structure and requirements for monitoring and collecting data and sets a baseline for what we believe should be a target for all indoor spaces to achieve in terms of air quality. A building or indoor space that is operating according to the RESET Air Standard will at the very least understand their situation better than ones who do not follow the standard because they have the data to back it up. To take it one step further, we created the RESET Indexes to set higher performance targets because the baseline targets might not be enough. For more information on the RESET Indexes and the research we did to develop them, please take a look at this page: https://reset.build/resources/indexes.

Note that the RESET Air Standard by itself is only part of the equation for calculating COVID risk. RESET currently does not take into account mask wearing, occupancy, and it also cannot determine whether or not there is air flow going into all corners of the office. That means that there are still going to be certain spaces in an indoor environment that have stagnant air.

For further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info[at]reset.build.