I am now a RESET Accredited Professional: what does that mean?

A few weeks ago, I completed my training and passed an exam to become a RESET Accredited Professional (AP) – one of approximately 500 around the world, and one of 51 offering services in the UK.

RESET is a data standard relating to the monitoring, recording and communication of indoor air quality. By being an accredited professional, I can now advise organizations and help them deploy an IAQ monitoring and reporting set-up that provides credible and independently-verifiable data on several key IAQ parameters, which can then be used to inform decisions on what IAQ solutions to deploy.

All too often, IAQ products and services are offered without sufficient evidence to demonstrate efficacy, or even need. Sometimes, some quite outlandish claims are made and impressive statistics are quoted that might be completely irrelevant to the context of the space concerned (interior landscapers – I’m looking at you. You can’t keep banging on about so-called NASA research on using plants to improve air quality if you don’t know how to measure it).

If you don’t know where to place an air monitor, how to interpret its data or even whether the monitor is accurate, then how can you be sure that your interventions to improve air quality are working? This is where a data standard is really useful.

The RESET approach is not a design standard – it doesn’t tell you what you must put in your buildings to improve air quality. RESET is a data standard. This means that if your organization is RESET certified, then you (and the users of your building) can be sure that the monitors you use measure the key IAQ parameters correctly (carbon dioxide, VOCs, temperature, humidity and fine particulates), and that the data provided by those monitors is handled, recorded and reported securely and impartially.

RESET also requires that IAQ data is made available in real time to the end users of the building (not just the building manager). This empowers users (e.g. office workers) to hold employers to account for the health and safety of their environment and can even help people make their own decisions about adjusting the environment to be more comfortable and healthy.

For me, being a RESET AP allows me to offer genuinely evidence-based solutions to my clients. I know how to set up an IAQ monitoring system, and I can then apply my knowledge of indoor air quality to recommend the most appropriate solutions (or point my customers in the direction of someone who knows better than me).

RESET is aligned with WELL, Fitwel and the Living Building Challenge, so if you are pursuing one of those standards, having a RESET-certified project will allow you achieve the relevant prerequisites relating to IAQ monitoring and reporting.

The biophilic home office

Image by Simply-C-Photography for Fusion Spaces

Biophilic design need not be confined to office buildings and other commercial spaces. The benefits of biophilic design can be obtained in the home office too, and without having to spend a fortune. My recent post for Fusion Spaces explores the benefits of biophilic design and gives some very simple and cost-effective tips to help you thrive in your home working setting – it’s not just about plants (although, of course, they are very important), it is about all of your senses.

350 shades of green

Over the last three months, as spring has turned to summer, and the weather in my corner of England has been spectacular, I have been acutely aware of how the landscape has been transformed by the colour green. The green things in the landscape have also changed, from the vibrant fresh shades of new foliage, to darker greens as leaves mature, or from the deep greens of cereal crops as they begin to ripen towards yellower shades and ultimately to golden brown.

The human eye is especially sensitive to green. The shades that we name as green fall right in the middle of the visible spectrum and extend from the citrusy yellow greens to minerally blue greens. I have been told that humans can distinguish as many as 350 shades of green (although that may be an artefact of language – how do we really define green, especially at the extremes of what might reasonably be described as green?)

How many shades of green?

Green is a hugely symbolic colour too. Pagan religions from all over the world have symbols, such as the Green Man of North European folklore. These often represent both the power of nature and its sustenance. Green is sometimes related to magic and the presence of spirits too.

There was even a time – within living memory – that green cars were regarded as unlucky (at least that is what my grandmother told me. She was aghast when my father bought a mint green car in the 1970s, but that might just have been a comment on his taste).

Rosslyn Chapel Green Man – photo by Johanne McInnes. (licence CC by 3.0)

More positively, green represents sustainability and environmental responsibility. Green also means progress. Green for go is the universal convention for traffic management and for a safe state of affairs.

All of this symbolism can be directly linked to the colour’s ubiquity, and that is also directly related to the life giving quality of a green pigment called chlorophyll, without which, no complex life on Earth would be possible. You can almost feel the force of life coursing through green spaces in nature.

Green workspaces

Workplaces have been given the green light to re-open as the worst of the pandemic eases. Some have taken the opportunity to go green: plants screens and moss walls are being specified to ensure physical distancing and aid with pedestrian traffic flow.

Other workplaces are embracing the environmental opportunities that are afforded by allowing more people to be home based (for part, or even all of the time), reducing commuting time, emissions and energy bills and being available for those that cannot work anywhere else, or for when face-to-face collaboration is unavoidable. This might even lead to a significant reduction in office space occupancy, as this article in the Guardian recently explained.

Some are looking to a more human-centred future. Instead of offices being a place to go for all work, they might be hubs for collaborative effort: occasional places that are both sociable and productive.

Workplace managers are going to have to consider whole new interactions of disciplines in the very near future: space, furniture, technology, connectivity, restoration and recuperation, and new approaches to managing people.  All will need repackaging to create work environments that people want to use.

Unfortunately, a large number of workplaces are doing their best to recreate the pre-pandemic state, but with perspex and cubicles. A look at some of the FM web sites and magazines shows just how uninspiring some of these places can be. High screens, often in shades of grey, blocking not just the view of a colleague, but preventing views of the broader interior landscape or even through a window. Such spaces are, no doubt, hygienic, but they are also emotionally sterile too.

Maybe, our new-found appreciation of nature and a greater understanding of how we, as animals, respond to the rhythms of the seasons can help us create better working environments as a result.  

In a fragile economy, those organizations willing to invest in creating more humane working cultures will be in the best place to attract and retain eager and talented people.  Fortunately, those investments need not be huge in terms of cash and capital, but instead may require taking a little time to learn and reflect on what has been learned.

If you would like more detailed advice on creating workspaces that are humane and effective, please get in touch.