Carbon Dioxide Monitoring

Not an easy task

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) monitoring is not a new concept, but it’s proving to be a tough one to handle. It has to do with the amount of fresh air in a structure.

Most of us have heard of sick buildings. When the air in a building gets polluted with vapors that can be or are harmful to us, the result is a sick building.

Unfortunately, thousands of air borne vapors or particles fall into the polluting category. To complicate matters, we currently have no instrument that can measure all of these possibilities – at least not at a price most people can afford.

An affordable tool

But we do have an affordable way of measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide in a structure. That’s important because by looking at the concentration of CO2, we can estimate the concentration of many other vapors.

Here’s the theory: If we can keep CO2 levels within safe tolerances, we can prevent our homes and offices from getting “sick.”

Maintaining reasonable CO2 levels by measuring and controlling is far better than guessing – as is most often done in commercial and residential buildings. This ineffective procedure is partly due to the cost of CO2 meters.

Meters tested

Recently, Monolithic purchased several CO2 meters. We asked employees to take meters home and begin monitoring. We got some surprising results. Most of the employee homes – both conventional and Monolithic Domes – had CO2 levels above 1200 parts per million (ideal maximum). Some homes had levels above 4000 PPM.

Of course, the fresh air supply can always be increased by using an exhaust fan or simply opening windows or doors. But we’re not always willing to do that. If it’s hot outside, we don’t want to lose our conditioned air. If it’s cold, we don’t want to lose our warm air.

Why so high? The answer is simple: We don’t always get enough fresh air exchange in our homes.

Fresh air is depleted as a result of everyday life in our homes.

Here’s another surprising example: A staff member with many plants in her home got an amazingly high, nighttime CO2 reading. That happened because plants give off oxygen only when they are in light. At night, they burn oxygen and give off CO2 – just as we do.

So what is the answer?

We are attacking this problem. We’re going to continue to monitor our homes as we try out new solutions. Meanwhile, you can equip your home with an Energy Recovery Ventilator also known as a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV). There are many brands. We sell the RenewAire 130 and the Recouperator through the Monolithic Marketplace.

Despite the problems, we think that getting a CO2 meter is a good idea. Currently, it’s the most efficient and affordable way of monitoring CO2 levels and controlling pollutants. You simply place the meter in a handy spot and check it periodically. When CO2 reaches an uncomfortable level, you open windows, open doors or turn on fans – and breathe healthy!

The CO2 monitor is now available online from the Monolithic Marketplace. It is the best we could find at an affordable price.

Updated: April 17, 2009