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Air Filtration - Expert Commentary

What’s In Store For HVAC?
What’s In Store For HVAC?

The past six months have been busy for those in HVAC as offices are updated and made safe for people to return. In addition to the various standard checks that need to be carried out, more care is being taken in relation to air movement and filtration to prevent the spread of disease. There is evidence that at least some of the COVID-19 virus can remain suspended in the air and infectious for up to 3 hours. While this is not the main form of transmission, it is vitally important, especially as we are seeing a second increase in infections, that all measures are taken to prevent the spread of the disease. Sick building syndrome In addition to the fundamental elements of HVAC in public buildings, the sector should be looking to the future of technological use; whether COVID-19 is completely wiped out or lingers in the population, we may be at risk of more new diseases in the future. Although maintenance is one of the least visible of building services, it has long played an important role in ensuring the health of buildings. Decades ago, the concept of sick building syndrome was first introduced, showing quite how important our environment is to health. Now, we are being reminded of this on a daily basis in ways that have never been under such scrutiny. We are suddenly hyperaware of what we have touched and who else is breathing our air. In many ways, this new awareness of the unseen is a boon for the sector that has so long been behind-the-scenes, but it also puts it to the test. Potentially stagnant pockets There are numerous recommendations from experts on how to increase safety Governmental guidelines have not specifically required that ventilation and air conditioning be increased in the workplace. Yet, there are numerous recommendations from experts on how to increase safety. At the low-tech end of the spectrum, the use of ceiling and table fans to increase movement in potentially stagnant pockets of air has been suggested. At the other end, technologies that have long been growing in popularity, such as remote monitoring, will really come into their own in the coming months. A particular challenge for the industry as workers return to the office under social distancing guidelines will be accessing certain areas for maintenance. For as long as the virus remains in the population, risk assessments for work will be more complex and non-essential jobs will likely be put on hold where possible. Optical remote sensors Intelligent technology and monitoring systems are already driving the market and will play a role in minimizing contact with others when visiting a site. There is already a great range of tools available: wired sensors, wireless sensors, and optical remote sensors. These allow organizations to monitor vibration, temperature, acoustics, and the power of numerous assets remotely and in real-time. Any issues can be addressed as soon as they arise, minimizing the cost and time that an engineer may need to be in the building. Installing these technologies while buildings are still unoccupied or only partially occupied will also reduce the risk of exposure of engineers to the virus and will improve the efficiency and prolong the life of important assets. Whether a second lockdown takes place or not, these tools will protect building services. Motion-Activated air conditioning Other sensor-based features such as motion-activated air conditioning also have great potential Other sensor-based features such as motion-activated air conditioning also have great potential. These can manage the new hygiene anxiety which pervades public places at the moment. In the longer term, they can be a means of building sustainability practices into the workplace, using power only when needed. Internet of Things (IoT) features such as occupancy sensors have long been growing in popularity to create buildings which are more energy-efficient and promote productivity. Many of these features are demonstrating added value during the pandemic. Occupancy sensors, for example, can be used to ensure that buildings do not exceed safe numbers for social distancing. HVAC systems will be integrated ever further into the IoT approach. Some features of virus reduction, however, have posed a challenge for systems. Air conditioning systems Air conditioning systems, for example, can best reduce the risk of viral transmission through increasing the amount of air which is brought in from the outside into the systems. This will reduce the amount of recycled air but will also increase the temperature fluctuations within the buildings. Other recommendations have included reviewing ventilation strategies, increasing ventilation operating times, deep cleaning filters, and replacing filters more often. Cutting corners on anything which reduces the risk of virus spread will only be a greater loss to the client All of these can potentially see an increase in time and cost required by the client at a time where many companies have been stretched financially. Cutting corners on anything which reduces the risk of virus spread will only be a greater loss to the client in the long run if their employees lose time to illness but it still may be a temptation. Strong working partnership FM providers must work closely with clients to understand their individual fears and needs in such turbulent times. For Anabas, we believe demonstrating expertise and experience is a means of reassuring organizations that they are in safe hands. The future of the pandemic is still unpredictable. While its elimination is hopeful, it is still well worth the investment for many organizations to install the tools which minimize the risk of infection of COVID-19 - or any future infections. Clients are looking for certainty in an uncertain world and data-driven insights and real-time monitoring are ideal ways to provide this. However, the reassurance that comes with a strong working partnership will also be more important than ever. Communicating developments and what they mean for the client, as well as assuring them their priorities are understood can set a provider apart.

The Efficacy of Portable Air Purifiers in Reducing COVID-19 Transmission
The Efficacy of Portable Air Purifiers in Reducing COVID-19 Transmission

Our world plunged into a new set of uncomfortable norms in 2020. Mere months ago, life for much of the planet chugged along at its customary monotonous pace. Then, without forewarning, an insidious health threat thrust upon us. COVID-19, colloquial for SARS-CoV-2, is a novel coronavirus that originated in China in late 2019. It quickly burned around the globe like a dry brush fire. Not since a hundred years ago has humanity confronted mask wearing and social distancing in efforts to prevent suffering on a pandemic scale. A single COVID-19 viral particle is extremely small at 0.06 microns. This pure form of COVID-19 is not found outside a laboratory and would not survive even if it made its way into the environment. A single sneeze can eject 200 million COVID-19 particles into the airInstead, SARS-CoV-2, when expelled by infected human hosts, is encapsulated by mucus material. Hosts shed airborne viral particles in two modalities: droplets and aerosols. Droplets are about 1 micron while aerosols approximate 0.5 microns. Millions of viral droplets and aerosols are sloughed-off by talking, laughing, coughing, sneezing, singing or simply by breathing. A single sneeze can eject 200 million COVID-19 particles into the air. Portable air purifiers provide a potent tool in the fight to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The selection and deployment of an appropriate purifier are instrumental in lessening airborne viral droplets and aerosols. Advanced purification units can sterilize air as well as trap pathogens. This best-of-both-worlds approach to disease prevention is vitally important. HEPA Filtration An air purifier must have a medical-grade HEPA filter if the goal is trapping airborne pathogens. HEPA filters remove 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size. HEPA has different levels. The H-values of HEPA range from H10 through H14. Medical-grade HEPA is H13 or higher and provides filtration efficiencies of 99.95% of 0.1 micron-size particles per liter of air. As a result, medical-grade HEPA is highly effective in COVID-19 droplet and aerosol elimination. Clear Air Delivery Rate Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is a critical metric of a purifier's ability to remove particles of a given size and is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM.) This drastically differs from a CFM metric alone. CFM as a standalone value demonstrates only the volume of air moved through a system without regard to particle removal. CADR is a compulsory and precise method of comparing air purifiers in a standardized manner. Choosing a purifier with the highest CADR is always preferable. Experts recommend devices with a CADR that moves the total air volume of a room through the purifier 5 to 6 times per hour. Portable air purifiers provide a potent tool in the fight to reduce the spread of COVID-19 Ultraviolent Light Ultraviolent Light (UV) is a powerful sterilization strategy. UV is used in medical settings worldwide for this purpose. While utilizing UV in a purifier is advantageous, selecting a device with UV in 254 nm wavelength is paramount. UV outside of this wavelength can excite oxygen into creating harmful ozone molecules consisting of 3 oxygen atoms. Cutting-edge air purifiers have 254 nm UV bulbs formulated with doped quartz. Such doping precludes secondary harmonic UV wavelengths from radiating from the bulb. UV is an invaluable element of air decontamination if ensured UV is 254 nm and doped bulbs are utilized. Photocatalysis Some air purifiers employ photocatalytic Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) membranes to complement their UV. The resulting photocatalysis dramatically enhances the sanitizing effects of UV. A TiO2 photocatalytic reaction under UV radiation provides additional disinfection pathways in addition to UV directly acting upon pathogens. Thus, both direct UV and photocatalysis provide exceedingly effective methods of microorganism degradation and destruction. Other Technologies Other technologies are found in purifiers, such as sophisticated filters to thwart VOC/TVOC compounds and negative ion generation. Negative ions have antibacterial properties, including marked reductions of acinetobacter transmission. Also, negative ions have the beneficial capacity to precipitate airborne PM1.0 and PM2.5 particulate matter, which are impurities that affects health. Advanced purification units can sterilize air as well as trap pathogens With the COVID-19 age upon us, portable air purifiers provide enormously powerful weapons in protecting the health of persons inside enclosed spaces. Air purification coupled with other air quality measures -- such as ensuring a suitable amount of outside air exchange, air agitation with fans and upgrading existing HVAC filters with MERV-13 -- present an effective and comprehensive approach to health and safety.

Intelligent HVAC Solutions: Enabling a Safe Return to Work
Intelligent HVAC Solutions: Enabling a Safe Return to Work

Having spent the last few months working from our sofas, dining tables and ironing boards, many of us have become accustomed to the world of remote working. But we’ve now arrived at a point where many businesses are starting to reopen their doors or have plans to do so in the near-future. Employers will be hoping that a return to work will prove productive, reinvigorating the workforce and driving growth. To this end, however, they will need to instill confidence by demonstrating how they can keep employees safe and comfortable. Bringing employees back to work will be complex. For a start, businesses have had to implement a large number of new safety measures in response to COVID-19. However, ensuring safety in the workplace goes beyond adhering to social distancing measures and anti-bacterial cleaning stations. Behind the scenes, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) play a crucial role in facilitating a safe workspace. Whether it’s the systems implemented to limit the spread of the virus, the ongoing servicing of these systems or their wider environmental impact, HVAC solutions and facilities managers (FMs) rest at the heart of a safer return to work. Embracing new strategies for clean air Walking in the building through a new automatic door, most office workers will be greeted with a queue for the lifts and plenty of signage reminding you to sanitise your hands and keep your distance. Some may have their body temperature scanned by a thermal detection camera on entry, which could also count how many people enter to ensure numbers are safe. Others could be met with an anti-virus access point that scans your face using facial recognition rather than a pass, and enforces hand hygiene by dispensing sanitiser before the lifts will open.  Behind the scenes, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) play a crucial role in facilitating a safe workspace All of these measures, however strict, are part of the new normal: ‘contactless’ buildings. Designed to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, facilities managers have plenty of options when it comes to keeping people safe. But not all of them are so apparent when entering a building. Some of the most important measures are those we can’t see. A healthy and safe working environment has always relied on a building’s HVAC infrastructure – temperature control, good air flow, and a reliable level of comfort are top of most office workers’ priority lists. But the pandemic has taken this to a new level of importance. As a critical part of their wider health and safety plan, facilities managers can look to identify strategies to increase clean air levels further. This could include increasing outdoor air circulation to decrease pathogen exposure, with smart air handling units. These will enable managers to bring in more outside air to displace potentially contaminated air, by increasing ventilation and air change rates.  Improving Filtration Methods Improving filtration methods is another possibility, by adding additional filters including high efficiency filters and HEPA filters, to trap more particles and increase the percentage of clean air in a building. Portable HEPA solutions are also an option for those who need more flexibility. In addition to air filtration and circulation, it is also possible to use UV-C lighting to effectively ‘disinfect’ the air or surfaces, using ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to inactivate viral microorganisms. These can be installed brand new or retrofitted into existing facilities, to reduce costs for FMs and speed up implementation. These innovative uses of HVAC to limit the spread of infection could have a huge impact on the health and safety of occupants in any building – and this is by no means limited to offices. Within healthcare and laboratory facilities, for example, solutions like room pressurisation, air change rates, humidity and temperature controls are all critical to reduce contamination in the air and on surfaces. A healthy and safe working environment has always relied on a building’s HVAC infrastructure Safety is an ongoing process No matter which HVAC solutions a facilities manager chooses, it’s not a case of installing them and then waving goodbye. As with any good health and safety strategy, constant monitoring is crucial to ensure building occupants are well looked-after – and this also ensures you can get the most out of HVAC investments. For some this means keeping a close eye on how your HVAC equipment runs, to ensure that they’re reaching optimum performance and delivering the best ROI. Working with a partner who can provide continuous service and monitoring is critical, so that the pressure is off FMs themselves. Especially now, having remote monitoring capabilities is an added bonus, so that minor issues can be fixed without an engineer having to visit the site.  For those with smart technologies in place, such as smart connected chillers, FMs may rather be reliant on predictive maintenance and monitoring tools, which use AI and automation to predict issues before they arise, and ensure equipment runs reliably and downtime can be minimised. Whether in person or remotely, good quality service and maintenance of HVAC equipment goes a long way – both to get the best return on investment, and to keep buildings as safe and comfortable as possible. Enabling a smarter and more sustainable workplace HVAC has always been critical to keeping employees happy and healthy at work – but for a long time this has had a negative impact on the planet. Inefficient HVAC systems can give a building a much bigger carbon footprint than it would ideally have.  75% of organizations plan to increase their investment in energy efficiency and smart building technologies Last year, our Energy Efficiency Indicator survey found that 75% of organizations plan to increase their investment in energy efficiency and smart building technologies. The opportunity, then, to overhaul HVAC systems in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 is also an opportunity to invest in more efficient, greener HVAC technologies, built for the future. Taking a holistic approach to your HVAC equipment is the best way to do this, to ensure efficiency gains can be made across an entire building or estate, by connecting intelligent systems. Chillers, for example, with efficiency and intelligence built in as standard can reduce energy use and carbon emissions for a building, or collection of buildings, helping FMs meet energy targets and keeping costs low. Choosing the optimal HVAC system Under current circumstances, the decisions made by FMs are pivotal in enabling business continuity and will ultimately impact building occupants’ comfort and safety. It should therefore come as no surprise that businesses are paying close attention to every move FMs make. Choosing the optimal HVAC system for your building and ensuring regular servicing and maintenance will prove cost-effective and energy efficient. Not only this, but smart HVAC technologies go a long way in enabling a safer, productive and more sustainable working environment. By picking the right tools for the job, businesses of every type can position themselves for growth while remaining as safe and secure as possible.

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