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Supporting Indoor Air Quality in Commercial Buildings Can Improve Profitability

Updated: Apr 11

Owners of commercial buildings attract long-term tenants and maximize profits by providing amenities and good design, and at the same time can decrease maintenance costs through energy conservation and efficiency. While these two strategies can make the real-estate business profitable, they don’t prevent vacancies caused by tenant financial hardships.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses that rely on in-person customers and employees suffered due to occupancy limits, shutdowns, and hesitancy to spend time in indoor spaces. Another factor that causes loss of profits - and isn’t isolated to the COVID pandemic - is loss of employee productivity when they come to work while sick or stay home due to illness.

Since the cost of employees (salaries and benefits) makes up roughly 90% of a business’s operating expenses, small changes to staff productivity can have big financial consequences. Based on published data, the table above (See Fig. 1) illustrates how the flu, common cold, or other consistent seasonal illnesses can create significant costs to companies every year in hidden ways.

Figure 1: Simulation of financial impact of lost productivity for typical small business.

In 2015, the total cost of lost productivity from working while sick was estimated at $150 billion per year - the flu alone costing $10 Billion.

While these statistics are alarming, there is a lot that can be done to reduce these costs and improve operational ROI by improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in offices and workplaces. Many contagious diseases are spread through the air, and when that air is properly managed to support health, productivity can improve by 8-11%[1].

The B4H VitalSigns algorithm and IAQ platform can help maintain productivity by giving building owners and managers the tools and data they need to create an indoor environment that supports occupant health.

Contact our B4H IAQ Specialists


Note: This article was adapted from the original article published in Engineered Systems, September 13, 2021 by Stephanie Taylor, MD.


[1] Fisk, W. J., Black, D., & Brunner, G. (2011). Benefits and costs of improved IEQ in U.S. offices. Indoor Air, 21(5), 357–367.


Figure 1 Footnotes:



  3. Graham Worrall, MB BS MSc FCFP. 2011. Acute sinusitis. Can Fam Physician. May; 57(5): 565–567.

  4. Harvard Health Publishing, Sinus infections, March 2016.


  6. Molinari NA, Ortega-Sanchez IR, Messonnier ML, Thompson WW, Wortley PM, Weintraub E, Bridges CB. The annual impact of seasonal influenza in the US: measuring disease burden and costs. Vaccine. 2007;25(27):5086–96.

  7. Palmer LA, Rousculp MD, Johnston SS, Mahadevia PJ, Nichol KL. Vaccine. 2010 Effect of influenza-like illness and other wintertime respiratory illnesses on worker productivity: The child and household influenza-illness and employee function (CHIEF) study. Jul 12;28(31).

  8. Kelly A. Reynolds, Paloma I. Beamer, Kevin R. Plotkin, Laura Y. Sifuentes , David W. Koenig, and Charles P. Gerba, The Healthy Workplace Project: Reduced Viral Exposure in an Office Setting. Arch Environ Occup Health. 2016 May 3; 71(3): 157–162.

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