RESET Air Certification
Between home, work, school, the gym, and the other buildings that we frequent, we spend an average of 90 percent of our time indoors. However, rarely do we think about the air quality that we are breathing in our homes. Most people associate air pollution with smog-filled cities, fossil fuel burning factories, power plants, and the morning weather forecast warning us of dangerous air quality indexes due to high particulate matter levels. Though all of those outside air pollution elements are worrisome, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds that the air inside our homes often has concentrations of some pollutants 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.
The increased use of synthetic building materials, household cleaning agents, and other chemical components has led to more toxic interior environments. In developing countries worldwide, indoor air pollution primarily stems from poorly ventilated cookstoves that fill homes with smoke and fine particulate matter. In the developed world, though our homes may smell "fresh," there may be dozens of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other dangerous airborne particles negatively affecting our health.
Despite this problem's severity, indoor air quality has not drawn the same level of interest and attention within the sustainable building industry. For example, there are several independent, third-party certifications for sustainable wood and forestry products. However, there wasn't a reputable, third-party certification system offering a holistic and comprehensive rating system for indoor air quality until recently. There are specific certification programs that measure the VOC content and emissions of particular products. Certi-Pur certification, for example, provides standardization for specific foam products. And the GREENGUARD Certification programs test for low VOC emissions in the furniture—similarly, the Oeko-Tex certification tests for chemicals used in textiles. However, a comprehensive and inclusive indoor air certification system has been notoriously lacking within the mainstream building industry.
RESET Air Certification is a relatively recent certification program, first launched in 2013, that seeks to fill this critical void in the sustainable building industry.
What Is RESET Air Certification?
RESET Air Certification is a monitor-based and performance-driven indoor air quality standard and certification program. This indoor air certification program was developed by GIGA, an international organization based out of Shanghai. RESET stands for "Regenerative Ecological, Social, and Economic Targets." The Standard's vision is to "create a future for measurably regenerative built environments with a focus on three pillars: ecological, social, and economic."
RESET's programs and certifications seek to act as a data standard accompanied by a set of assessment tools that can help establish long-term strategies towards health and sustainability for the built environment. Their air certification program intends to make indoor environmental health measurable, deliverable and accessible.
Indoor air quality can change over time, as many factors impact it. For example, installing new wood flooring or a fresh coat of interior paint might lead to an influx of long-lasting VOCs inside the home. Instead of merely relying on a one-time, prescriptive assessment, RESET's air certification program combines performance-based and real-time data with cloud technology. This combination allows homeowners and building managers to envision and access real-time environmental health data. The continuous monitoring of indoor air quality and the subsequent reliance on cloud technology where data is communicated and stored allows homeowners and other building occupants to quickly increase their environmental awareness and identify strategies to improve their indoor air quality.
What Are the Benefits of RESET Air Certification?
The RESET Air Certification Program has been carried out in various buildings and projects covering more than 620,000 square meters of interior building environments. Though the certification program has mostly been oriented towards larger commercial buildings, it does have a residential version. It has helped increase public awareness regarding the importance of indoor air quality.
Long-term exposure to volatile organic compounds has been shown to irritate the lungs. It can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system. Some of the most widespread and commonly found VOCs in building products such as formaldehyde have cancer links. Molds, mildews, and other common allergens also affect millions of homeowners' respiratory health across the country. The RESET Air Certification provides a comprehensive, holistic, and technology-driven program to help homeowners and other building owners prioritize healthy indoor air quality.
The RESET certification is also unique in that it furthers the reach and influence of smart home technology. Whereas most smart home gadgets are focused on improving energy efficiency and reducing electricity usage, the RESET Air Certification program has committed to developing reliable and standardized indoor air quality monitoring and reporting technologies. The program believes that real-time and long-term indoor air quality data is essential to help building occupants discover the causes and sources of indoor air pollution. This data can then help homeowners implement renovation strategies focused on removing or avoiding pollutants and improving overall indoor air quality.
What Are RESET Air Certification's Main Areas of Focus?
The RESET Air Certification is unique because it is a sensor-based and performance-driven certification system, specifically for indoor air quality. The certification relies on strategically placed fixed-mounted monitors to ensure that indoor air quality remains healthy throughout the building. These monitors have to be able to take constant measurements of the following common indoor air parameters:
- Particulate matter that is less than 2.5 micrometers in size (PM2.5)
- Total volatile organic compound concentrations (TVOC)
- Carbon dioxide levels (CO2)
- Carbon monoxide levels (CO)
- Relative Humidity
The data from these measurements are communicated via smart home technology to the building owner or homeowner. This practice allows the building occupants to account for any air quality changes due to different circumstances, such as introducing new building materials or general changes in the building environment.
What Types of Homes Can Get Certified with RESET Air Certification?
Because the RESET Air Certification is a rigorous certification program that relies on multiple sensors that need to be recalibrated and updated every year and large amounts of data, certification is mostly geared towards larger commercial buildings such as office environments and other indoor commercial spaces. However, RESET Air Certification has a specific program designed for building owners and landlords of single-family and multiple-family residences. This certification type can ensure optimal indoor air quality for families and individuals living in apartment complexes and condos. It can also give the building owner or landlord the data needed to defend against any liability claims arising from indoor air pollutants causing harm to their resident's health.
How Many Homes Have Been Certified with the RESET Air Certification?
To date, over 620,000 square meters of buildings have been certified with the RESET Air Certification. There is no reliable information regarding how many individual facilities have been certified. Still, you can find a complete list of their projects here. Though their main focus is on commercial interiors, they have done certifications for individual residences, like this one in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Where Is RESET Air Certification Most Adopted?
RESET Air is based in Shanghai, China, and they have done many certifications in different countries throughout Asia. As the program has grown and received positive international press, it has expanded to other parts of the globe. RESET has certified buildings in Europe and Central Asia, North America, China, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
What Are the Steps to RESET Air Certification?
There is a four-step process to become (and remain) certified for homeowners or landlords interested in applying for RESET Air Certification.
- Plan and Select
- Install and Commission
- Record and Certify
Plan and Select
Because data quality is crucial for RESET Air Certification, you need to hire an accredited professional that can help you purchase and install the right set of monitors, data providers, and other deployment requirements. You can find a list of RESET accredited professionals here.
Install and Commission
The accredited professional you work with will ensure that the monitors and data recollection system are properly installed. The data regarding your indoor air quality will be streamed to the RESET cloud service for health and certification analytics provided by RESET.
Record and Certify
Again, the RESET accredited professional will carry out an audit process, including a site audit and a data audit. To be certified, the sensors and data must be within the performance targets during occupancy for PM2.5, TVOC, and CO2, for three consecutive months.
Once you have been certified, RESET will continue to perform the data audit. Your sensors need to be checked once a year to maintain the certification.
What is the Projected Value of RESET Air Certification?
A single-family residence that obtains RESET Air Certification will be able to rest assured that their home's indoor air quality is of the highest quality. The sensor's continual data will offer real-time and performance-driven data to help homeowners notice changes to their indoor air quality during different seasons. Homeowners can also monitor how their indoor air quality changes during renovations or other changes to the building interior.
RESET Air Certification can be a selling point for building owners or landlords of multi-family residences to attract residents. An apartment complex with RESET certification can highlight the optimal indoor air quality and demonstrate the space or building's commitment to its occupants' health.
How Much Does RESET Air Certification Cost?
The pricing for RESET Air Certification is dependent on the type and size of the project. A large 1,000 square meter home (10,763 square feet) costs $1,746 the first year and $582 from the second year. You can see a complete breakdown of the costs of this innovative indoor air certification program here.
Craig Stevenson is the President of AUROS Group and is an expert in building science, a certified RESET AP, and a Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC). He holds 2 US Patents in the use of technology to dynamically display physics-based simulation against trended data. Craig is co-author of the book, The Power of Existing Buildings-- Save Money, Improve Health and Reduce Environmental Impacts, which provides building owners the tools to reach ultra-low energy and healthy indoor air quality performance in existing buildings.