NIST Releases Free Carbon Dioxide Calculator
Citing a lack of frequent testing and a general misunderstanding as to how to adequately ventilate buildings, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a free online tool to help with determining the appropriate air quality for a space quickly and easily. The Quick Indoor CO2 tool, or QICO2, is exactly as it is title: a free CO2 calculator that determines the levels a building should have given a specific scenario.
While a variety of factors ultimately impact air quality, the practice of using CO2 as a marker has long been a standard by many scientific organizations and studies when measuring ventilation. Now, with this new tool, “building professionals can use CO2 readings to routinely check ventilation, detecting potentially unfavorable conditions that could lead to the buildup of harmful contaminants,” NIST says in a press release.
“By measuring CO2, you can verify that you’re achieving the ventilation rate that your space was designed for, but you need to consider all the factors that impact CO2 levels,” said NIST Fellow Andrew Persily, author of a recent paper exploring said topic.
QICO2 Provides a Powerful, Free Tool for Those Interested in Delivering Better Air Quality
When using the program, users either manually enter the pertinent information or have the option of selecting from a list of predefined scenarios (schools, residences, etc.). Next, the QICO2 does the math to come up with projected CO2 levels that users can then compare with real-world readings and take the necessary actions to fix correct ventilation if needed.
A carbon dioxide level below 1,000 parts per million is a common threshold for adequate indoor air quality. However, other factors could make that threshold misleading. The number of occupants and their age, weight and level of physical activity are all variables that directly drive the amount of CO2 indoors. The outdoor CO2 levels and a building’s size and indoor temperature play important roles too.
The tool is meant to provide a free and easily accessible gauge to compare against air monitor readings within the environment for determining ventilation. With QICO2, building professionals can more easily evaluate the rate at which a space ventilates and develop solutions or provide guidance based only on measurements acquired from consumer-grade CO2 monitors. It also provides a means of more regularly and meaningfully measuring ventilation on a regular basis with clear, scientifically proven methods.
The QICO2 tool is freely available on NIST’s website for those looking to get started.