Building Occupiers, Owners & Property Managers

Case Studies From Our Clients

Building Occupiers, Owners & Property Managers

Building Designers & Contractors

 

Manufacturing & Industrial

 

Remediation, Restoration & Abatement Companies

Insurers

 

Residential

 

Building Occupiers, Owners & Property Managers

Legionella / Office Building

Problem

Despite having extremely low levels for multiple years, a commercial office building discovered high levels of Legionella, which can cause Legionnaires’ Disease, on one particular quarterly assessment. 

Actions

They hired Indoor Science to regularly sample their water for Legionella bacteria. 

Conclusion

Indoor Science recommended instituting a water management plan in conformance with ASHRAE standards and helped the property manager evaluate different remedial actions. Indoor Sciences’ regular water sampling was able to quickly diagnose a serious health risk and help prevent this issue in the future.

VOCs / Commercial Office

Problem

During a construction project in the basement of a commercial building, contractors used an oil-based sealant rather than a low-VOC water-based sealant. The emissions created a strong chemical odor in the property which prompted everyone in the first two floors to evacuate. 

Actions

Indoor Science conducted an indoor air quality assessment and found highly elevated concentrations of total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) throughout the first two levels. 

Conclusion

Indoor Science recommended improved ventilation of the affected areas and was able to monitor the reduction of TVOC levels. When the concentrations were no longer elevated a few days later, Indoor Science recommended the space be reoccupied.

Radon in Department Store

Problem

A high-end department store had unusually high rates of cancer among long-term employees. The store wanted to evaluate the property for common carcinogens such as radon, asbestos, and formaldehyde.  

Actions

Indoor Science deployed radon measuring devices throughout the department store discreetly so the clientele would not be alarmed. 

Conclusion

After monitoring the store for over 48 hours, extremely high levels of radon were discovered in a back area of the store. The peak concentration was nearly 20 times higher than the EPA action level. Indoor Science identified an area in the foundation where excessive radon was entering the store. After the problem was mitigated, Indoor Science was able to confirm that the space had safe levels of radon.

Odor / Commercial Office

Problem

A commercial office was experiencing an objectionable odor. Several companies had been hired to determine the source before turning to Indoor Science.

Actions

Indoor Science started the assessment with a thorough olfactory evaluation of the space. Walls, floors, furnishings, and electrical outlets were sniffed for the odor source, without any success.  We then proceeded to slowly and thoroughly sniff the ceiling throughout the office. Indoor Science found the source of the odor on the ceiling of the foyer. The paint used on the foyer ceiling had spoiled and was emitting an objectionable odor.

Conclusion

Indoor Science’s investigation skills were able to identify the problem before any expensive samples were collected.

Ventilation / Commercial Office

Problem

A commercial office tenant was concerned about COVID-19 risks in their leased space.   

Actions

Indoor Science measured airflow throughout the office and found several areas with deficiencies.  This was despite the building engineer’s insistence that all was fine based on his computer readouts.  

Conclusion

We were able to demonstrate that the building engineer’s readings were wrong and that ASHRAE ventilation standards were not being met.  Further investigation led to the discovery that two key VAV boxes providing airflow to the office were stuck closed.  The two areas with insufficient airflow exactly matched the two areas of the office where employees were complaining most frequently.

Mold / Commercial Office

Problem

An office building had a faint must odor throughout the facility and Indoor Science was hired to identify a source. 

Actions

During our investigation we found mold in the first few feet of ductwork in several of the air handling units. A root cause evaluation identified that the cooling coils, despite the appearance of being clean, were clogged deep within. This led to excessive velocity across the coils, which in turn led to condensation from the coils being picked up and deposited into the first few feet of ductwork. The dust and moisture together lead to mold growth and the odor was circulating around the building. 

Conclusion

Indoor Science recommended coil cleaning to address the root cause and mold remediation to correct the immediate health hazard.

Mold and Asbestos in Performing Arts Studio

Problem

A performing arts studio sustained severe water damage throughout their property due to an aging roof. Indoor Science was hired to conduct moisture readings and mold air testing in the facility to evaluate the extent of the damage. 

Actions

The assessment showed water damage was present on both floors of the property and that property had highly elevated levels of mold spores in the air. Additional dampness was uncovered in areas with no suspected water damage. 

Conclusion

Indoor Science discovered water-damaged asbestos-containing materials, which was not present in the original scope of the project.

museum exhibit
Particulate Matter / Museum

Problem

Indoor Science conducted an assessment to evaluate airborne particulate matter (PM) levels within a museum’s storage facility in response to ongoing dust concerns and complaints. The dust was originating from a neighboring manufacturing tenant. 

Actions

Indoor Science conducted continuous particulate monitoring for PM2.5 and PM10 over one week. It was determined that the museum’s storage room had PM levels that were above the recommended industry limits. Measurements taken away from the neighboring manufacturer were within acceptable limits. 

Conclusion

Indoor Science made recommendations for establishing a positive pressure, sealing up openings along the demising wall, and improving the filtration used in the storage facility.

hospital building
Mold in Hospital

Problem

A pediatric hospital in the Middle East had multiple cases of fungal infections following open heart surgery. Indoor Science was hired to conduct root cause analysis to identify the problem. 

Actions

Through intensive investigation, we found a number of issues. There was no discernible positive pressure in the cardiac intensive care unit, which allowed for naturally ventilated hallway air to seep into the critical area. Open windows in the hallways lead to elevated humidity throughout the hospital, causing condensation buildup on several supply diffusers. On top of that, multiple “jump ducts” found in critical areas hindered the hospital’s ability to create the correct pressure relationships.  

Conclusion

Indoor Science’s expertise and science-backed procedures were able to create a report that identified 19 unique contributing factors that increased risk of fungal infections.

Brown Water from Faucet
Brown Water in an Office Building

Problem

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an old high-rise office building was experiencing a low level of occupancy.  Those still working in the building complained that the water looked brown and contaminated. They weren’t sure if it was safe to wash their hands with this water, which was concerning due to the importance of hand-washing during the pandemic.  The building maintenance staff would go around and open the water taps for a minute each working day but there was uncertainty if this approach was sufficient.

Actions

Indoor Science collected water quality samples for regulated metals, total coliform bacteria, E. coli, and Legionella. The domestic hot water lines were elevated for copper at 3 times the EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level! Indoor Science worked with the building maintenance staff to develop a plan which involved a more systematic method for water flushing.

Conclusion

Follow-up testing demonstrated that the new water flushing plan was able to keep copper levels below federal regulations.

Brown Water from Faucet
Blockbuster Mold

Problem

During the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster franchise, Indoor Science was hired to conduct indoor air quality in a large abandoned church. The results from the visual inspection and testing indicated a serious concern for mold exposure.

Actions

Indoor Science worked with the producers of the film along with a local restoration company to establish a remediation plan in order to make the location safe for filming activities. 

Conclusion

After the remediation was completed, Indoor Science conducted post-remediation monitoring, which showed filming activities could commence. 

Brown Water from Faucet
Rapid Response to a Pipe Burst

Problem

A polar vortex resulted in wind-chill temperatures of negative 50° F. A water pipe burst and flooded below-grade commercial office space.  Although there were several inches of water on the floor, no one was sure from where the water was coming.

Actions

Indoor Science was able to immediately respond to help identify the location of the burst pipe. By using an infrared camera and moisture meter, we were able to identify the exact area where the pipe had burst. A wall was opened up and the rupture was located. Once the problem area was identified, we directed the building engineer to shut off the water supply to limit further damage. Indoor Science played a pivotal role in overseeing the drying process and recommended further removal of materials that were not properly drying. 

Conclusion

Indoor Science’s rapid response and project oversight resulted in a warm and healthy workspace.

Brown Water from Faucet
Hidden Dangers of Gas Ovens and Cook Tops

Problem

A client hired Indoor Science to conduct an indoor air quality assessment after feeling unwell in the home after having a lung transplant.

Actions

Indoor Science conducted an assessment on general indoor air quality parameters throughout the client’s property.

Conclusion

We were able to determine the source of the issue was carbon monoxide from a faulty burner on the kitchen stove. There was also elevated particulate matter. Once these were addressed the client’s symptoms improved.

Brown Water from Faucet
Where Does Radon Come From?

Problem

A senior living community hired Indoor Science to conduct a radon assessment of the property.

Actions

Indoor Science conducted an assessment of radon throughout the ground floor level over a week long test period to determine the levels of radon present in the facility.

Conclusion

We were able to determine that radon was elevated in half the building, while the other half showed normal levels. As a result, Indoor Science recommended a proper mitigation solution and was interviewed by local media to discuss the findings and how they eliminated a potentially severe health hazard.

Brown Water from Faucet
Should I Conduct ERMI Sampling?

Problem

A client hired Indoor Science to conduct an indoor air quality assessment after an ERMI test showed elevated mold concentrations in the property.

Actions

Indoor Science conducted a thorough assessment for mold growth throughout the client’s property. The assessment used ambient and disturbed mold air sampling.

Conclusion

We were able to determine the ERMI test did not correlate with air sampling results. Followup testing confirmed that there was no microbial problem in the property.

Brown Water from Faucet
The Issues of Testing For Second Hand Smoke

Problem

A client hired Indoor Science to prove there was tobacco smoke in her unit. This client complained that there was a terrible tobacco odor that she believed came from a tenant next door. The neighbor smoked regularly during the afternoon on the opposite side of a common wall.

Actions

We removed the cover plate of an electrical outlet to expose the interior of the common wall.  We then placed the sorbent tube in very close proximity to this wall cavity during a period of time when we thought the neighbor would be smoking. Fortunately, we could detect the odor of cigarette smoke while running the test. 

Conclusion

By using this device, we were able to show the presence of ETS in the common wall.  Our client was able to present this lab result to building management to address this problem directly with the offending neighbor.

Brown Water from Faucet
Effective Ventilation In Schools

Problem

A high school hired Indoor Science to evaluate the ventilation in their facility. The client wanted to see if recent ventilation upgrades made in regards to COVID-19 had been effective.

Actions

Indoor Science conducted a ventilation study of the facility and conducted general indoor air quality monitoring to determine the effectiveness of the upgrades.

Conclusion

We were able to determine various problem areas in the facility in terms of ventilation and filtration. We were able to make recommendations bringing in additional fresh air into the facility and considering installing portable air quality in problematic areas.

Building Designers & Contractors

Technology Evaluation at Commercial Office

Problem

A large company was considering the use of a newer air cleaning technology for their US-based offices. They had their HVAC designer and mechanical contractor install some test units in some of their unoccupied office space. 

Actions

Scientific research had identified potential safety concerns with the technology so Indoor Science was hired to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the air cleaning equipment.  Indoor Science conducted testing over a two-week period using various instruments and laboratory-based tests. 

Conclusion

The air cleaning equipment was not found to be producing harmful byproducts.  However, the efficacy tests showed no statistically significant improvement on the levels of particulate matter.

Smoking in High-rise Condos

Problem

During the final stages of construction, a general contractor was asked by the developer if the residential condos could meet an air tightness standard.  The developer was considering allowing smoking in the building but did not want to jeopardize their LEED certification. 

Actions

Indoor Science was hired by the general contractor to conduct tracer gas testing to determine if air leakage between units was less than 1%. Indoor Science released a non-toxic tracer gas in test units and monitored its presence in the adjacent condominiums. 

Conclusion

We found greater than 2% of the tracer gas in adjacent units which prevented the building from being able to achieve LEED certification. Indoor Science advised the general contractor on methods for increasing air tightness between condominium units.

LEED in High Rise Condos

Problem

An engineering company made a mistake when designing the kitchen exhaust for high-rise luxury condos. The mistake threatened the building’s LEED certification status.  

Actions

Indoor Science was able to use a creative method called the “IAQ Procedure” to demonstrate that although the prescriptive requirements were not met, the space still performed to acceptable levels of air quality during mock usage of the kitchen. 

Conclusion

We documented our findings for the LEED submission and the building was able to achieve certification.

VOCs in Office

Problem

A large commercial office tenant moved into a newly renovated office space and a few employees started experiencing symptoms. Due to an abundance of caution, the company vacated the space until the problem could be evaluated and resolved. Days stretched to months and the expense of the vacant space was accumulating. 

Actions

When the space was initially renovated, a company performed an indoor air quality assessment that wound up missing the mark and pointing the finger at one of the subcontractors. This subcontractor reached out to Indoor Science and put us in touch with their insurance company and law firm. 

Conclusion

Indoor Science found that the subcontractor’s work met the construction specifications and was not the source of elevated volatile organic compounds. Indoor Science deemed that the air quality met guideline limits and that the space was ready for occupancy.

Manufacturing & Industrial

film production on set
Mold in Film Production

Problem

During the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster franchise, Indoor Science was hired to conduct indoor air quality measurements in a large abandoned church. 

Actions

The results from the testing indicated elevated concentrations of mold spores in the air. Indoor Science worked with the producers of the film along with a local restoration company in order to establish a remediation plan in order to make the location safe for filming activities. 

Conclusion

After the remediation was completed, Indoor Science conducted post-remediation monitoring which showed filming activities could resume.

Fire / Food Manufacturing

Problem

A food manufacturer experienced a structural fire with damage to one area of their facility. A restoration company was hired to dry the water from fire suppression, remove fire-damaged materials, and clean remaining surfaces. Due to food safety concerns, the food manufacturer wanted to confirm that surfaces were clean and safe for food processing. 

Actions

Indoor Science used several environmental surface tests to detect soot, char, biological activity, Salmonella and Listeria.  

Conclusion

Indoor Science identified some areas missed by the restoration company and helped ensure that food was safely manufactured going forward.

pharmaceutical bottles
Mold Investigation with Instascope

Problem

At a pharmaceutical packaging plant, the in-house quality control team was seeing elevated mold counts during their regular internal testing.  They hired Indoor Science to determine where the mold might be coming from. 

Actions

Along with a thorough visual inspection of the large facility, Indoor Science used an Instascope device that measures airborne mold in real-time. We mapped the facility and found an area with slightly higher mold counts than all the others. Then we used the Instascope as a “bloodhound” to help lead us to the source.  The combination of the Instascope and a visual inspection lead us to some wooden pallets, which the plant required to be single-use. Upon inspection, several wooden pallets had visible mold growth that had gone unnoticed.

Conclusion

Indoor Science recommended moisture resistant alternatives to wood pallets and temporarily improving the air quality with supplemental filtration.

 

film production on set
Perimeter Monitoring

Problem

A large online retailer was building a new facility in the City of Chicago. However, early site assessments determined the soil in the construction zone was contaminated with both mercury and lead.

Actions

Indoor Science provided perimeter testing and personal monitoring for the site to assure that employees were safe while working in contaminated areas.

Conclusion

Indoor Science provided sampling that generated results which were compared to the OSHA Standards and exposure limits. This allowed Indoor Science to safely say individuals were safe working in these areas and were wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment at all times.

Remediation, Restoration & Abatement Companies

concert venue
Developing a Protocol

Problem

A large fire at a concert venue resulted in fire damage and water damage. There was debate about the recommended scope of work between the property owner, insurance company, and restoration contractor. 

Actions

Indoor Science was hired to provide an independent analysis and develop a remediation plan that would right-size the project. Our team listened to the concerns of all interested parties and used analytical methods to determine the true extent of the damage, rather than just eye-balling it. The results of the testing showed that the smoke damage was more extensive than originally presumed by the insurance company, as it traveled inside certain wall cavities and plumbing chases. Indoor Science developed a site-specific remediation plan that was agreed upon by all parties. 

Conclusion

The remediation work was performed as specified and the concert venue was restored to its former glory—without hidden contaminants inside the walls.

suburban house
Clearance Testing and Legal Protection

Problem

A contractor remediated mold damage in large home. The owner insisted that a 3rd party consultant be hired to evaluate the work, and Indoor Science was hired.  The remediation contractor was initially reluctant to have their work critiqued, but they had no say in the matter. 

Actions

Upon completion of the remediation, Indoor Science inspected the work area and identified a few spots that needed re-cleaning. Indoor Science deemed the home to be properly remediated and provided the owner with a report stating this conclusion. Over a year later, the same home experienced another mold problem, and the homeowner accused the remediation contractor of not properly remediating the mold originally. The contractor reminded the home owner that Indoor Science independently verified the quality of their work and that this new problem must be stemming from an unrelated issue. 

Conclusion

Indoor Science’s post-remediation verification (PRV) and clearance testing helped the contractor avoid an unnecessary and costly legal dispute.

and the homeowner accused the remediation contractor of not properly remediating the mold originally. The contractor reminded the home owner that Indoor Science independently verified the quality of their work and that this new problem must be stemming from an unrelated issue. Indoor Science’s post-remediation verification (PRV) and clearance testing helped the contractor avoid an unnecessary and costly legal dispute.

Insurers

Lead Dust in Store

Problem

A construction project next door to a large, downtown retailer resulted in a layer of dust on all of the store’s products.  There was concern about the presence of lead and asbestos in the dust.  

Actions

Indoor Science was hired by the retailer’s insurer to determine if the store’s products had to be discarded or if they could be cleaned. We conducted large-scale sampling of the product and found multiple items with elevated levels of lead and asbestos in the dust. 

Conclusion

Indoor Science recommended disposing of the merchandise using licensed abatement contractors rather than attempting to clean the products and re-sell them to the public.

Raccoon in Home

Problem

A homeowner submitted a claim for extensive mold damage in a home stemming from a raccoon that was living in the attic. The claim was that the raccoons created holes in the roof that lead to water damage during rain events. 

Action

Indoor Science was hired to determine if all of the home’s mold was caused by the raccoon damage.  Indoor Science analyzed the mold present throughout the home.  

Conclusion

We concluded that some, but not all, of the mold was caused by the covered damage.

Fire in Home

Problem

A furnace fire in a million dollar home left the owners concerned about soot and poisonous gases throughout the home. The insurance company wanted an independent evaluation of the home to determine the full extent of the problem.  

Actions

Indoor Science opened several walls and used qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating surfaces. 

Conclusion

Although Indoor Science found some additional areas needing restoration, the extensive damage claimed by the homeowner was not substantiated.

Mold in Distribution Center

Problem

A large distribution center for a footwear company had over 50,000 pairs of moldy shoes. Due to the large insurance claim, it was important to determine the source of the problem: did mold happen somewhere in the supply chain or in the distribution center itself? 

Actions

Indoor Science deployed over 20 air quality sensors across the unconditioned distribution center in order to track humidity throughout the facility. We found elevated humidity levels indoors on cooler, humid days.  We then tracked weather patterns over the four months prior to the mold event and compared them to nearly 20 years of historic weather data. 

Conclusion

Indoor Science found that the unseasonably cool and humid conditions of that summer were previously unseen since the company started using the distribution center.  Indoor Science set up a monitoring system whereby key staff would be notified if the situation arises again and a new dehumidification system could be activated to help prevent mold growth in the facility.

Residential

Asbestos / Multifamily Building

Problem

During renovation activities in a multifamily building, a tenant became concerned with indoor quality after materials infiltrated her unit from a work area below. The HVAC supply ductwork below the unit had been removed during the renovation, causing air from the work area to pass into the unit’s hallway. 

Actions

Indoor Science evaluated the indoor air quality and sampled for asbestos and lead. The test results of bulk, air, and dust samples showed elevated levels of an extremely rare asbestos type: Anthophyllite. Lead paint was also detected in the dust. Follow-up testing showed the presence of Anthophyllite in other units. 

Conclusion

The reporting from Indoor Science was forwarded to local health agencies which launched an investigation into the building’s work practices.

Water Damage / Multifamily

Problem

A water supply line for a swimming pool disconnected, leading to water flowing down several floors into residential condos below. 

Actions

Indoor Science was hired to assess mold risks after materials had been wet for over 48 hours. We found over 50 damp areas missed by the drying contractor and recommended specific porous materials to be removed. Surface samples were collected according to a sampling plan, and some areas of mold growth were identified. 

Conclusion

After all the areas were cleaned, Indoor Science performed a post-remediation evaluation and determined the affected areas were safe for re-occupancy.

Mold in Home

Problem

The owner of a large home complained about a musty odor although there were no obvious signs of mold and the air ducts were recently cleaned. 

Actions

Indoor Science thoroughly inspected the property and found a whole-house humidifier that was on a relatively high setting. A detailed inspection identified that the multiple chimney chases were uninsulated. The elevated moisture from the humidifier was condensing on cold, uninsulated surfaces and leading to mold growth in the walls. 

Conclusion

After spending thousands of dollars with other “experts” to identify the cause, Indoor Science was able to pinpoint the cause with their expensive knowledge of building science.

Dust mites in Home

Problem

A world-famous athlete was experiencing breathing difficulty at home and was concerned that these symptoms would affect his professional performance.  

Actions

Indoor Science conducted a comprehensive indoor air quality assessment of his home to identify any possible causes. One particular test conducted by Indoor Science evaluated the air for common allergens.  

Conclusions

When the lab results came back, we were all surprised to find extremely high levels of dust mite allergen in his bedroom. Indoor Science coached the client on how to reduce dust mites with humidity control, cleaning strategies, and encasements for the mattress and pillows.

Over-humidification in the winter

Problem: A new, multi-million dollar home installed custom woodwork that required precise humidity controls. A humidification system was installed to maintain a target relative humidity of 50% in the home. Despite the highest quality finishes, the builder cut corners and used insufficient insulation for the walls.  The combination of increased indoor humidity and decreased wall temperatures lead to condensation in the walls during freezing weather.  The condensation and subsequent mold growth happened within the walls, so the damage was happening unnoticed. 

Actions: Indoor Science was hired to investigate a musty odor in the home. Rather than just taking samples like other consultants, we used our knowledge of building science to not only identify the mold problem, but to understand the underlying causes.

Conclusion: Our findings were used by the owner to have the builder rectify the issues—at the builder’s expense.

Mold assessment leads to cost savings

Problems: A client hired Indoor Science to conduct an initial mold assessment after receiving a 5-figure remediation quote for fungal growth in their property.

Action: Indoor Science conducted a mold assessment in the property to determine the type and extent of growth present in the home.

Conclusion: We were able to determine that there was no fungal growth present in the property, only an adhesive. This inspection saved the client over $10,000. 

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