As we hit the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals and families are beginning to return to the places where they work, learn and shop. As we transition into this next phase of the pandemic, discussion is more prominent around the role building ventilation and HVAC systems play in creating healthier indoor air quality (IAQ).
People want to trust that the indoor spaces they inhabit are safe and clean. And even after the pandemic is behind us, people will continue to value living and working in spaces that are healthy.
Why Building Ventilation Is Important
Healthy indoor environments are made up of many things, including temperature, noise and lighting. However, the three things that have the most impact on IAQ are fresh air, ventilation and filtration.
For commercial buildings and office settings, air pollution has three main causes:
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from cleaning solutions, building materials and other sources.
- Fluctuating carbon dioxide levels, which is common in schools and building spaces where there is a large concentration of people in a small area.
- Pathogens that are circulated in the air.
Proper building ventilation and air filtration help fight against these main causes of indoor air pollution by replacing the polluted indoor air with cleaner and fully oxygenated outside air that has been conditioned.
How To Increase Airflow Inside Your Office
There are two key things you can do to improve office air quality. The first thing is increase airflow in populated areas. This is achieved by running the blower motor continuously. Many facility managers don’t do this because they think it will increase their energy costs. However, running the HVAC system 24/7 doesn’t cost extra money. What it does do is keep the indoor air moving and keep it filtered. And when the fan is continuously running, the economizer or automatic dampers are also working to help provide constant ventilation.
You do need to be careful about how much outside air is being brought into the space. Too much can lead to uncomfortable indoor temperatures and decreased energy efficiency. We recommend having an HVAC contractor do an inspection of the ventilation system to make sure everything is working properly and is set up according to building ventilation codes.
Increased airflow also helps keep carbon dioxide levels low and prevents the air from stagnating and creating hot and cold spots within the building space.
The second thing you can consider is retrofitting the existing HVAC system with energy recovery ventilators. With this solution, the system takes the air that’s inside and uses the exhaust system to push it outside. Then the outside air is brought in and goes through the heat exchanger, where it is either heated or cooled and then exhausted into the building space. With this solution, the most important thing to pay attention to is that the ventilation is controlled properly to ensure that the HVAC system runs efficiently.
Commercial HVAC Filters and Indoor Air Purifiers
Filtration and ventilation go hand-in-hand because pathogens also exist in the outside air that is being brought into the building. There are a variety of HVAC filters and indoor air purification products that support IAQ. When we meet with building and facility managers, we recommend that they use high efficiency HVAC filters – like a MERV 11 – and install a product like the Aerus® Air Scrubber that is able to kill pathogens in the air and on surfaces.
Upgrading to the best filter you can find for your HVAC system, combined with installing a product like the Aerus Air Scrubber, will provide the best results for pathogen control.
We sell a variety of air purification systems and have experts on staff that are happy to speak with you about whether one of these products fits your needs.
Here at Bell Brothers, it’s our priority to provide whatever support we can to individuals, families and the small business community. If you would like to speak to one of our HVAC professionals as you prepare to reopen your business, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 515-244-8911.