In the post COVID-19 Pandemic world there is a need to ensure the safety of workers returning to offices and students to schools. Facilities Managers are turning to The HVAC industry who offer innovations to help achieve their goals. HVAC systems monitor indoor air quality and can also contribute through filtration and cleaning of the air.
The HVAC industry is able to provide an integrated set of solutions to help building owners improve the health of their building environments, operate safely, cleanly and comply with social distancing policies.
This helps reassure staff that it is safe to return to the workplace. Through the integration of air quality technologies and advanced analytics Healthy Building solutions are designed to help building owners minimize potential risks of contamination and ensure business continuity.
“Returning to work after a pandemic will not be returning to business as usual,” said a CEO at a leading building technology corporation.
Occupants will want credible information and increased visibility into how building technology is protecting their health and what has been done to ensure that the buildings they enter are safe. Healthy buildings go beyond just energy efficiency to ensure the health, comfort, confidence, and productivity of the people who use them.
The air quality monitoring system takes into account CO2, particulates, and humidity. It then takes the variables, adds weighting, and inputs them into an algorithm, creating a Healthy Building score.
The healthy building score provides an instantaneous feedback on the current building health and its trend over the past hours, days months or weeks. As workers re-enter buildings, owners and other stakeholders want to make sure they have health spaces in which to work.
Information Drives Reopening Practices
Providing this data to business and building owners helps them make informed decisions. By viewing statistics, owners and other stakeholders can develop the best approach for using the recommendations provided by authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidance is also provided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). For example, ASHRAE recommends using 100 percent outdoor air for ventilation. While that may not be possible for all customers, the monitoring systems and solutions from the HVAC industry can help you move towards that goal.
The monitoring system presents information in an easy to use format via a dashboard. Facility managers can use something as simple as color-coding for separate zones to determine the health status. Based on sensor inputs, air quality can be determined and illustrated to an onscreen map.
Data collection will improve with the deployment of artificial intelligence and an increase in monitoring tools that most agree on. The more sensors we can employ in the building, the more information we can gather and the more inputs we have to our monitoring system the better the results.
Schools Invest in Student Health
The monitoring solutions can be tailored to the unique needs of commercial buildings, airports, hospitality, healthcare, and education sectors. Madison Industries, has put together a website on indoor air hygiene to profile all the offerings from its various brands, including HVAC provider Addison-HVAC. The Indoor Air Hygiene Solution Center is located at indoorairhygiene.com.
As the scientific community better understands the spread of COVID-19, they are increasingly looking at airborne transmission.Kris Howard, President of Addison Filtration Group
Addison helped pioneer direct outdoor air systems (DOAS). A main focus for the company right now is helping schools re-open in the fall by providing more fresh air, filtration, and humidity control. Ross Miglio, Addison’s president, said schools will have different levels of needs.
“Every one of these schools will need replacement filters,” Miglio said. “Maybe a few of them will need dehumidifiers. Maybe some of these school districts will have future construction projects that will get configured from a DOAS standpoint.”
Some air solutions may play off other precautions, he said. For example, a school may steam clean a carpet as part of its cleaning process and then find this created excess humidity. Addison sells a roll-in dehumidifier that can be used in that situation. Addison’s goal is helping the schools come up with a plan based on the guidelines available to them, Miglio said.
“The breadth of what we have allows us to give them what’s right for their schools, rather than forcing something they may or may not need,” he said. “It’s really up to the schools, but at a minimum, they’re going to want to make sure their filtration is up to snuff.”
Some communities may not have built a new school in years, even decades. This means they may need to invest even more in their air systems. Miglio said schools haven’t always been as diligent as they should be when it comes to filtration changes. He expects that to change. Maintenance needs will increase, too. For example, if they add more UV lights to prevent spread, they need to make sure those are functioning properly.
Facility managers have focused on comfort and other immediate issues. Now, the dynamic has changed — and so has the culture, requiring a deeper look at what is happening in buildings.
“It comes down to very simple things,” Miglio said. “You’ve got to create solutions for safer and healthier indoor environments. That’s more true than ever.”