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By Amy Hawley, Jarrett Laubach, Justin Flores, and Bob Burkholder

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 90% of their time indoors. A Gettysburg College study states that Americans spend a third of their time in the workplace. Indoor air quality is an important condition that affects every workplace. It contributes to the health, comfort, and well-being of all building occupants. Poor indoor air quality is a known cause of sick building syndrome. According to the EPA., indoor concentrations of some pollutants have increased over the past several decades. This is due to such factors as energy-efficient building design (Tighter Building Construction), which reduces the amount of natural ventilation and increases the need for mechanical ventilation. The International Mechanical Code provides us with the requirements to achieve the adequate air changes needed. There has also been an increased use of synthetic building materials, furnishings, pesticides, and commercial cleaning products. These are additional causes of indoor pollution.

The Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can also be affected by carbon monoxide gases, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and various chemicals that are commonly used indoors. Additionally, particulates, mold, and bacteria that collects within the HVAC ductwork are a known cause of poor IAQ. Air filtration systems should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent mold growth and reduce dust particle circulation within the workplace. Ventilation to dilute contaminates is an important means of improving air quality in most buildings. The use of IAQ sensors helps to monitor air quality and allows mechanical ventilation equipment to achieve the correct amount of ventilation as the conditions change. High rated filters and other IAQ products such as ultraviolet lights, P.H.I. Technology (Photo Hydro Ionization), humidifiers, and dehumidifiers help in reducing the particulates from circulating throughout the workplace. These products need to be sized correctly to insure proper operation of your equipment.

Some of the recent office building development projects have made IAQ a key component of their design and marketing strategy. Case in point is the City Center Investment Corporation portfolio located in downtown Allentown. Since 2013, they have developed more than 1 million square feet of Class A office space within the Allentown CBD. They have placed a priority of delivering a clean, healthy, and safe environment for employees of their tenants within their development designs.

Jarrett Laubach, the Director of Leasing for City Center Investment Corp., stated: We focus on three important areas: the best possible construction quality, an infrastructure that delivers an enhanced clean indoor environment, and the highest level of in-house service for our tenants. Since the very beginning, the wellness of our tenants has been a top priority, and now more than ever, air quality within buildings is playing a key role in the health of people working in those buildings. City Center’s office buildings utilize the best filtration systems and control fresh-air quantity in a cost-effective way. As part of their ongoing effort to provide the best quality IAQ for their tenants, City Center Investment Corp implements the following tactics for the health of their tenants’ workplaces.

• Improved Outdoor Air Ventilation: In accordance with industry standards
(ASHRAE) and CDC guidelines.
• Improved Central HVAC Filtration: The utilization of best-in-class MERV-13 air
• Increased System Running Hours: Operating 24/7.
• Maintained Temperature and Humidity. Summer 40-55% and Winter 30-40%.

Although a comprehensive janitorial service with an enhanced sanitizing program offers a clean workplace, it is also important that IAQ monitoring within buildings is done on a regular basis. A commercial HVAC service provider can provide property owners with a maintenance program that ensures a quality IAQ level within the workplace. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, tenants in the market for commercial and industrial space will now focus upon what landlords are doing to implement an IAQ monitoring program that will result in optimum employee performance, safety, and satisfaction.


Amy Hawley, SIOR, is Senior Advisor at SVN | Imperial Realty in Allentown, PA. She has over 30 years of industrial-commercial real estate brokerage experience in the Lehigh Valley, PA region. She specializes in industrial sales and leasing and also offers market consulting services to business and industry throughout the region. Contact her at (484) 245-1000 x1014 or amy.hawley@svn.com.

Jarrett Laubach, CCIM, serves as City Center Investment Corporation’s Director of Leasing, the key point of contact for companies exploring a move to City Center Allentown. He has 17 years of experience working within corporate real estate and has negotiating and transacted $110 million of deal value in commercial real estate sales and leases in and around the Lehigh Valley. Contact him at jlaubach@citycenterallentown.com.

Justin Flores has over 20 years’ experience working in the HVAC industry. He joined Burkholder’s Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. in 2020 as a Commercial Estimator and currently oversees the Commercial Installation Department. Contact him at (610) 965-9736 or jflores@burkhvac.com.

Bob Burkholder is the second-generation owner and operator of Burkholder’s Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. He has been involved in the family business since 1985 and assumed the company leadership from his father in 2000. Contact him at (610) 965-9736 or r.burkholder@burkhvac.com.

Featured in the Commercial Real Estate Review – First Quarter 2021