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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.
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.
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.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) has evolved, the need has become obvious for stronger unity among brands and ecosystems to enable products within smart environments to work together more easily. Working to serve that need is the Zigbee Alliance, which seeks to promote collaboration in the Internet of Things by creating, evolving, and promoting universal open standards that enable all objects to connect and interact. Their effort took off when Amazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance announced an industry working group in December 2019 to take the “best of market” technologies from leading smart home standards, portfolios and ecosystems and to develop a “super spec” that will be open, inclusive and a significant industry shift in the smart home market. smart home automation system “Zigbee Alliance has been for a while now working on openness and interoperability, which has led us to the Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), which is looking to unify the environment, under one technology, one certification program and one logo,” says Chris LaPré, Zigbee Alliance’s IoT Solutions Architect. “It really does fuel IoT possibilities, whether in HVAC or any other sectors.” There is a stronger need for unity, which is why we are developing Project Connected Home over IP" Project CHIP is a royalty-free connectivity standard that unifies brands and ecosystems into a single smart home automation system that operates any other technology based on Internet Protocol (IP). The intent is to simplify product development for device manufacturers, broaden consumer choice, and to ensure easy discoverability, deployment and engagement to fuel connected living. unifies that environment “We have noticed that, as the IoT has evolved, there is a stronger need for unity, which is why we are developing Project Connected Home over IP,” says Jon Harros, Zigbee Alliance’s Director of Certification and Testing Programs. “It fits with the Zigbee Alliance’s goal to unify systems, and to focus on everyone using the same application at the top. It unifies that environment, whether you are integrating your system with Amazon Echo devices or connecting to Google Home.” Participating in development of Project CHIP are 125 companies of various types from around the world working together with more than 1,100 of their experts serving across sub-committees to formulate specifications and fine-tune the project. Although the technology is being developed for the home market, the specifications have been formulated with an eye toward expanding into the commercial market in the future. home system technologies Development of open, interoperable systems provides greater freedom for consumers to choose among the many technology choices on the market, without being tied to a single brand or ecosystem. Zigbee Alliance certifications and memberships span the globe, with roughly a third in Europe, a third in North America and a third in Asia. Involvement in Europe is slightly higher than the other regions. Alliance members represent manufacturing sites all over the world. Project CHIP is a newer initiative of the Zigbee Alliance, which previously developed Zigbee Pro to enable home system technologies to operate using IEEE 802.15.4 wireless signals on the 2.4GHz radio band over a self-healing true mesh network. The original Zigbee protocol is used for many applications around the world, including HVAC. smart temperature devices HVAC developers who have specific use cases should have a look at the work of the alliance Members of the Zigbee Alliance include HVAC companies such as Lennox, Stelpro and Belimo, among others. Carrier is a recent company that has joined the Zigbee Alliance. Smart thermostats, including the popular Ecobee, have used the Zigbee protocol. More than 100 different devices have been certified as thermostats or smart temperature devices. Harros urges other HVAC companies to become more involved with the Alliance. “We want them to come and have a look to see what we are doing and get involved,” he says. “This is where the work is being done as we unify the environment and bring together all the devices and ecosystems to work together.” HVAC developers who have specific use cases should have a look at the work of the alliance, he adds. certification transfer program Among the strengths of the Zigbee Alliance are years of experience certifying products, which includes testing them and confirming that they comply with the promoted specifications and functionality. The specifications are open standards that are developed in cooperation with all the companies that are Zigbee Alliance members. Another route is the certification transfer program, in which a company chooses a certified white-label product, becomes a member of the Alliance, and then rebrands the product while retaining the certification. “It helps them get products on the market quickly while they build their own knowledge base,” says Harros. "All our work is focused on standardizing the behavior and functionality of products and making sure everyone is following the same standard to get interoperability,” says Harros. “Members all contribute to the standards.”
Challenged to propose a creative summer energy savings tip, Kortney Gaura of Le Claire, Iowa, chose to implement "Anything Can Happen Sundays" in her household, and her submission led her to be named Lennox’ newest "Energy Savings Superstar." The Lennox 2018 “Energy Savings Superstar” Contest offered an opportunity for consumers to think about how they devote their time and energy, and invited them to suggest simple but creative solutions for saving money on their energy bills during the steamy summer months. Gaura’s idea of filling a jar with several energy conserving tips to be implemented as a family created an opportunity for her family to spend more quality time together and save energy at the same time. home comfort solutions This is exactly the type of energy- saving advice Lennox Industries, a renowned provider of innovative home comfort solutions, was looking for when it launched the North America contest, which ran from July through August. "This year, we received hundreds of original yet innovative and creative submissions; however, Kortney Gaura suggested a relatable tip that can easily be implemented in any household wanting to save money and energy, while creating an opportunity for more family time," said Brittani Youman, Energy Efficiency Expert at Lennox. indoor air quality products Participants were encouraged to be clear, creative and above all, have fun with their submissions "Since Lennox is a recognized leader in energy-efficient heating, cooling and indoor air quality products, the Gaura family can rest easy knowing they are receiving world-class Lennox innovations that will maximize their energy savings and will keep them cool for many summers to come." For a chance to win, contestants had to describe their energy-saving tip in 1,000 characters or less, and submit a photo demonstrating their tip in action. The more creative and action-oriented the tip and photo, the better. As the grand prize winner, Kortney Gaura received: $10,000 in Lennox cooling, heating and indoor air quality equipment (including installation by J.L. Brady Company in Moline, Ill) A one-year supply of ice cream Four tickets to a water park near her home heating and cooling system As part of Lennox’ summer-long consumer education initiative on energy savings, hundreds of contestants submitted their tips along with photos of their advice in action via the Lennox Energy Savings Superstar Contest Website. Participants were encouraged to be clear, creative and above all, have fun with their submissions. Lennox selected four finalists to compete in a head-to-head public vote on the company’s website to decide the grand prize winner. "It’s exciting to know we are teaching our children at an early age how to be energy conscious and help save both money and the earth, and it’s something every family can easily do," said Gaura. "Winning a new heating and cooling system has already made a difference in how comfortable our home is, and I’m looking forward to even bigger savings with equipment that is much more efficient than what we had before."
While class has been dismissed for the summer, Lennox, a renowned manufacturer of innovative home comfort products, put homeowners to the test one more time before the official start of summer, and found that while most would pass when it comes to energy efficiency know-how, many may want to hit the books to learn more about how to save money on energy bills and stay cool this summer. Lennox Home Energy Report Card Survey The Lennox Home Energy Report Card Survey, commissioned by Lennox International and conducted by GfK Roper, asked about how people use and conserve energy at home and what they’re willing to do to save money on summer bills. The survey found that homeowners have mixed reactions when receiving a high summer energy bill The survey found that homeowners have mixed reactions when receiving a high summer energy bill. In fact, close to one-third (31 percent) of homeowners would turn up or off the thermostat, while another 28 percent said they would search for unused appliances to unplug. Others start turning off lights or research ways to save energy. Getting a Gold Star in energy efficiency practices Homeowners gave themselves above-average marks in energy conservation. When asked to grade their household on how well they conserve energy at home, nearly two-thirds of homeowners rate themselves above average with an ‘A’ or ‘B’ letter grade (62 percent). Fifteen percent of homeowners gave themselves an ‘A,’ (a 6 percent decrease from 2017), 47 percent gave their household a ‘B’ when grading their household energy efficiency, and 31 percent gave themselves a ‘C.’ Although a large majority (92 percent) have taken steps to conserve energy, it’s clear that a number of homeowners see the opportunity for increased efforts. Taking steps to conserve energy in homes More than 90 percent of homeowners are taking steps to conserve energy in their home. Fifty-five percent of homeowners are programming their thermostats to automatically adjust the temperature when they’re away, and 46 percent of homeowners bought new, more efficient air conditioning and heating systems. “Most homeowners recognize that improving the energy efficiency of their household to save energy and reduce electricity bills doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort,” said Lennox Energy Efficiency Expert, Brittani Youman. Using low-energy consuming appliances Brittani adds, “Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that can make a big impact on controlling costs, conserving energy, and beating the summer heat, starting with doing some basic things, like changing the air filter on your cooling system, using low-energy appliances and conserving by taking advantage of home automation.” Changes in weather aren’t the only reason homeowners are motivated to crank up (or down) the A/C While homeowners show that they are willing to take steps to conserve energy, they are not likely to sacrifice their comfort over savings. When asked how willing homeowners are to turn the thermostat up to save US$ 50 dollars a month on their utility bill, 37 percent would be willing to raise their thermostat three to six degrees, while 26 percent would not go any higher than one or two degrees. Changes in weather aren’t the only reason homeowners are motivated to crank up (or down) the A/C. The survey found that 46 percent of homeowners will turn on their air conditioning system for the first time of the year in May or June, while 9 percent of homeowners run their A/C system year-round. Conserving energy to lower power bills When asked to name the family member who complains most about hot or cold temperatures, the female head of household was identified 52 percent of the time, while 26 percent chose the male head of household. While many people proactively take positive actions toward lowering energy bills, some do earn a failing grade for doing more harm than good. Twenty-three percent of homeowners said they have turned off their cooling system completely during hot days or heating systems on extremely cold days to conserve energy. Regulating thermostat temperature settings “While turning off your air conditioning system completely seems like an effective way to conserve energy during the summer, it is actually forcing the system to work overtime to get back to a comfortable temperature,” said Youman. She further adds, “Doing so uses more energy and results in higher bills. Instead of turning off your system, we recommend lowering or raising the temperature of the thermostat or better yet, install a smart thermostat to do it for you.” Lennox Energy Savings Superstar Contest The grand prize winner will receive up to US$ 10,000 in energy efficient Lennox heating and air conditioning products Luckily, homeowners have an opportunity to improve their grade by entering the Lennox Energy Savings Superstar Contest. Between July 1 and August 31, 2018, Lennox invites homeowners to go to their official website to submit a unique and innovative home energy savings tip, along with a fun photo depicting their suggested tip. The grand prize winner will receive up to US$ 10,000 in energy efficient Lennox heating and air conditioning products, along with other ‘cool’ prizes to help them beat the heat this summer. ENERGY STAR Manufacturing Partner of the Year The results of the Lennox Home Energy Report Card survey are based on a telephone survey that was conducted by GfK Roper on behalf of Lennox Industries among 734 homeowners (ages 18 and over) within the U.S. during April 2018. Lennox has been honored four times by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy as an ENERGY STAR Manufacturing Partner of the Year for its outstanding contribution to developing and promoting energy-efficient products.