April 14, 2020
We check our food labels for hidden ingredients, search health reviews for the best vitamins and sip water with reusable bottles but how often do we think about the products surrounding ourselves at work? Not as often as you might think, according to a BBC article on indoor air pollution. Many indoor odors cannot be smelled, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
Fortunately, many firms and businesses now realize the value of investing in the quality of air flowing throughout their employees’ workspaces. From air filtration systems to sensors that monitor indoor air quality and the materials used to furnish their spaces, businesses are paying more attention to what goes into their office buildings.
This includes paints, adhesives, carpets, furniture and, in case you wondered, office pods, as well. Different from cubicles with their open-air dividers, office pods are fully self-contained rooms with four walls, a roof, soundproof paneling, and some feature ventilation systems and electrical power outlets for mobile devices. They are perfect for reducing noise in open office environments, but they can pose hidden risks from offgassing, the release of gases, chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air from building materials and cleaning products.
Like other office products and furnishings, office pods are made of textiles, composites, adhesives and other materials that can contribute to harmful levels of VOCs. One office pod manufacturer, however, stands above its competitors, having recently earned UL GREENGUARD® Certification for its soundproof phone booths for the open office. ROOM, a startup reinventing the modern workplace with modular and creative architectural office solutions, was the first office pod manufacturer to receive UL GREENGUARD certification in early March 2020.
ROOM had already demonstrated its commitment to health, wellness and sustainability, pulling in over 3,000 customers worldwide including Apple, Disney and Lyft, amongst others, who wanted to offer private spaces while staying true to their environmental commitments.
ROOM’s office pods feature a smart sensor that monitors each space for activity, automatically switching on the fans and LED light when in use, but the company wanted to go one step further, noted Brandon Fierro, director of global supply chain at ROOM.
“From design and manufacturing to final delivery and end-user experience, we’ve thought about sustainability every step of the way. This includes providing our customers with a holistic approach to sustainability, offering products that use materials with low chemical emissions,” he said. “UL GREENGUARD Certification demonstrates our commitment to offering products that support the best indoor air quality.”
UL tested the ROOM phone booth in one of its state-of-the-art environmental chambers which can evaluate products for VOCs down to the parts per billion (ppb) level. Testing chambers are closed environments; once a product is put into the chamber, UL collects the chemicals emitted from the product and tests them to measure the quantity and types of off-gassed VOCs.
UL GREENGUARD testing can be conducted on a wide range of products from furnishing to construction materials, or, in the case of ROOM, phone booth sized pods.
“UL GREENGUARD provides the best combination of rigorousness testing, industry reputation, and expertise to ensure ROOM's products are great additions to our customers' healthy work environments,” Fierro said. “Demonstrating the safety of the materials used in our products was the logical next step to ensure our phone booths are safe for our customers and the planet.”