Indoor Air Quality

Tips for Maintaining Indoor Air Quality by Industry

Grainger Editorial Staff

What is the value to the hospitality industry (hotels, motels, bars, restaurants, and casinos) of increased revenue, increased employee productivity and retention, and fewer guest complaints? Are you willing to lose almost $4 on every square foot of space? Would you be willing to invest if you received 80% of that investment back each year for the life of the property?

It is all possible, and the changes are simple. Invest in indoor air quality.

Focus on maintaining a healthy indoor environment, and you will see your revenue and occupancy rates increase due to guest satisfaction and repeat business, improved employee retention and productivity as they enjoy the work environment, and less out-of-pocket expense to resolve guest complaints.

The hospitality industry faces unique challenges in achieving good IAQ, evaluating the current state of IAQ in the hospitality industry, detailing how to improve IAQ, and reviewing the costs and benefits of such an improvement. Here are some examples:


Restaurants require ongoing maintenance of exhaust hoods, experience leaky sink pipes, spilled food particles on the floor, and inadequate makeup air, all which can result in more frequent breakdowns of systems than in other building types.


Bars experience a higher level of pollutants and occupancy density, and the conditioning systems are often not sufficient. Consequently, the wellness of these buildings is generally worse than that of restaurants.

Lodging (humid climate)

Lodging establishments in humid climates have their own challenges due to the high latent load that systems must overcome. Most lodging facilities do not have the proper type of cooling system to be able to control indoor humidity which leads to an environment conducive to the growth of fungi, mold and microorganisms. Poor maintenance, improper air balancing, and improper control strategies aggravate the situation. The maintenance personnel frequently cannot keep up with the system breakdowns or units requiring service.

Lodging (non-humid climate)

While there are fewer problems in the general lodging industry than those located in humid climates, there are still problems due to poor maintenance, high traffic in the space, and poor supply and distribution of outdoor air to the occupied spaces.


Casinos fall between bars and restaurants, in that they have greater pollutant generation than restaurants, but they typically have better conditioning systems and maintenance than most bars.

How to Improve IAQ

There are multiple opportunities to improve the IAQ in hospitality facilities. These opportunities can be divided into two categories of upgrade opportunities:

1. Meet or exceed the requirements of ASHRAE Standard 62-1999.

  • Change the rate of outdoor air
  • Install demand control
  • Develop smoke and odor control and separation systems
  • Monitor outdoor air quality to meet ventilation requirements
  • Install local exhaust
  • Increase ventilation effectiveness
  • Maximize economizer cycle
  • Relocate air vents
  • Change the air filtration method
  • Reduce unwanted infiltration/exfiltration

2. Improve space control to meet the health needs of Standard 62-1999 and meet or exceed the generally accepted requirements of AS HRAE Standard 55-1992.

  • Improve space temperature control
  • Improve control or provide positive control of humidity (dehumidification)
  • Install humidification, self-contained steam humidifiers
  • Accomplishing the improvement of the IAQ to ASHRAE Standard 62-1999 levels is economical for all buildings in the hospitality industry that currently do not meet Standard 62.

Maintaining IAQ and comfort

We have the ability to improve the health and lifestyle of close to 9.5 million workers in the United States and scores of hospitality facilities. This can be accomplished through the implementation of procedures to maintain the IAQ and comfort to ASHRAE standards. For a one-time investment with a year payback, the savings of over $250 billion dollars net present value for 20 years is staggering.


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