HVAC | Make Sense of Your Investments
When it comes to our HVAC systems, we have some opportunity to make our work environments safer. Current industry and regulatory guidelines do exist and are focused on two things: increasing ventilation and increasing filtration. While these two recommendations make sense in isolation, they can have devastating impacts on your occupant’s health as well as your energy cost, but those consequences go unnoticed until you look at the indoor environment holistically.
Increasing filtration probably makes the most sense. Filtration can remove the pathogen itself. However, higher effectiveness in your filters typically means more fan energy consumption and lower overall airflow. Both of these consequences need to be analyzed to find the correct balance, and alternative methods can be considered such as UVGI lighting.
Increasing ventilation also makes sense in isolation – the solution being dilution – but this is arguably the most dangerous modification you can make because it is the one that leads to lower relative humidity. The higher the amount of cold air you bring into your building and heat up, the lower your relative humidity will drop. You must offset this by humidifying, or you will be weakening everyone’s immune system within your building. In addition to low humidity, conditioning outdoor air can be costly. Without performing an upfront analysis, opening your ventilation dampers to let in outside air can make for an unsafe indoor environment and cost you operational money in the process.
The playbook we recommend ensuring you understand the CAPEX, operational cost, and potential impact you will make with building-readiness measures before you implement them is as follows:
- Humidifier installation, reconfiguration, or recommissioning to minimize transmission capabilities of airborne germicides in low humidity environments by maintaining relative humidity above 40% when the building is occupied.
- Central air handling unit testing will include air flows, filter differential pressure, supply fan power consumption, ventilation rates, air change rates, and identifying existing filter specifications. Identify any potential filter upgrades along with the potential energy penalty.
- Custom programming to coordinate and maintain psychrometric conditions with the building as well as control ventilation, filtration effectiveness, and purging.
- UVC lighting as a viable option for inactivating viruses as well as keeping drains for coil drip pans clean.
- Positive pressurization of the building to the outside.