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In what can only be described as a very turbulent year, many businesses have had to shut their doors and have all but forgotten about the general upkeep of their sites. With priorities shifted to keeping companies afloat and staff employed, maintenance and servicing has taken a backseat, and many systems will be deteriorating unnoticed. It goes without saying that one of the first tasks that employers will have to tackle when returning to work is a deep clean. As we are still in the throes of a pandemic, a clean and disinfected workplace is the number one priority that needs to be ensured, before any staff can be welcomed back to work. This should be closely followed by maintenance of the site’s equipment. Importance of regular HVAC maintenance Regular HVAC maintenance is extremely important as it keeps systems performing efficiently and effectively Regular HVAC maintenance is extremely important as it keeps systems performing efficiently and effectively. The nature of HVAC maintenance does change depending on the time of year, and with some sites being shut for months and through different seasons, managers will need to review their current equipment to ensure it is compliant and working correctly as soon as possible as signs of normality start returning and facilities begin to reopen. While warehouses and factories may have still been operating in some capacity over the last 12 months, many office buildings have seen little to no employees for more than a year in some cases, therefore, risking deterioration and even damage to their systems going unnoticed and untreated. But with so many pieces of equipment at each site, it is often hard to know where to start and what to prioritize. Following HVAC manufacturer’s recommendations In order for businesses to keep functioning as best as they can and to avoid any more disruption, those in charge of maintenance and servicing need to be educated on how the conditions of a system affects the type of work it needs. Manufacturer’s recommendations should also be taken into account. To help define what these are and how to approach them, mechanical and electrical engineers recommend: The coils and pipes in HVAC equipment that are responsible for heat transfer are checked regularly, because if the equipment gets dirty, it won’t transfer heat and energy as well. Checking controls annually to ensure that the HVAC system is running properly, as control calibration can alter. By scheduling regular check-ups, accurate operation is maintained. Maintaining equipment with fans quarterly to maximize longevity. Three key areas include monitoring the impellers, belts and bearings for any dirt, wear and tear, friction or erosion. Keeping an eye on filters, as when they are clogged, it increases the pressure drop in a system, which makes fans work harder to maintain the same airflow. A quarterly clean is usually sufficient for most filters. This is also true of strainers in systems. Optimizing HVAC and electrical equipment With spring now upon us, businesses need to optimize their HVAC and electrical equipment for maximum efficiency With spring now upon us, businesses need to optimize their HVAC and electrical equipment for maximum efficiency. This includes reviewing the sequence of operations for a morning warm up and cool down. However, it’s important to remember that because of prolonged closures over the last 12 months, autumn and winter checks, and in some cases, even summer checks were not able to be carried out in 2020, so before the spring work begins, backdating the maintenance is a good place to start. Ensuring buildings’ energy efficiency With the help of experts, HVAC maintenance doesn’t have to be time-consuming and overwhelming, but it’s a critical part of maintaining an energy-efficient building that is both comfortable and reliable. With regular servicing and some basic knowledge of what is required, sites can maintain optimum efficiency all year round. Noise complaints can also be an issue, if HVAC maintenance isn’t carried out regularly. Spring is a good time for businesses to perform services on their equipment, prior to the summer months starting and should be used to ensure that condenser coils and air handler filters are both clean. The dirtier the equipment, the noisier and less efficient it becomes, which is bad news for any business. Preparing buildings for staff returning to work When a building is returning to normal occupancy after a lengthy closure, additional checks must be considered before reopening is discussed. When a building is initially mothballed, it must be prepared for long term vacancy, but many businesses will not have had this opportunity before the national lockdown, which basically entails that these checks will not have been carried out. After a building becomes unoccupied, it is not the case that maintenance activity should also stop After a building becomes unoccupied, it is not the case that maintenance activity should also stop. At the very least, the frequency of existing planned maintenance will change, but in some cases, more maintenance tasks are required in order to keep the site ticking over. This includes flushing of water systems, Legionella testing and insurance inspections to keep the property functional and compliant. Countering health and safety issues As the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted across the United Kingdom and many businesses are gradually reopening, it will present health and safety problems that have not been faced before and will very likely see a surge in services and maintenance being required. With this in mind, it is vital that maintenance becomes a priority as normal service is resumed to not only ensure efficiency, but also to make sure that no employee or visitor to a site is put in danger. Emerging from a surreal 12 months, there is no doubt that companies will still face challenges, so it is crucial that avoidable maintenance problems do not become one of them, so don’t delay in booking routine checks.
With the roadmap laid out for the government to guide us out of lockdown, the end of the pandemic seems as though it could be in sight. However, HVAC units remain outdated in hotels, hospitals, schools, and offices and there is a worry that COVID-19 can still spread quickly and easily through air vents, mitigating the effects of lockdowns and vaccinations. Dr. Rhys Thomas, Chief Scientific Officer at infection mitigation specialist PP-L and a frontline NHS doctor, says that the government’s neglect of using HVAC solutions to reduce transmission is a major oversight. Airborne transmission indoors By failing to follow the lead of other nations that are now recognizing the importance of ventilation in relation to the airborne nature of the virus, the UK’s approach hasn’t been as comprehensive or as forceful as it could be, with quietly introduced, piecemeal changes to regulations being too little, too late. At the moment, some governments don’t want to come out and admit that COVID-19 is an airborne hazard and that their failure to recognize it as such has led to higher infection and mortality rates and suffered even greater impacts from new variants. Research shows that 80% of the spread of the virus is through airborne transmission indoors– the inhalation of infected droplets that are moving around in the room’s air currents or ventilation systems– which a two-meter distance or the opening of the window is unlikely to combat. New quarantine hotels The UK was geared up for an influenza-like pandemic rather than an airborne one The airborne nature of COVID-19 is what has caught governments off guard and meant we are still playing catch-up while new variants are starting to appear, which was also always to be expected. In terms of preparedness, the UK was geared up for an influenza-like pandemic rather than an airborne one, such as the challenge posed by a SARS coronavirus. As with all airborne illnesses, the greatest risk of transmission is indoors and in confined spaces such as public transport, office buildings, factories, and even potentially the new quarantine hotels which are being introduced to prevent the spread of the virus. The governments ‘hands, face, space’ messaging cover the opening of windows to help with airflow, but the reality is much more complex. Latest SARS Coronavirus The risk of infection indoors is vastly higher than outside, and current advice simply isn’t enough. There’s a perception – even in hospitals – that fresh air is clean air. I’ve been shocked to see hospitals that I’ve visited assuming that simply opening a window is enough. That is simply not the case – the air needs to be disinfected by ultraviolet light for it to be clean enough to prevent the spread of coronaviruses. I saw this in practice in the first SARS pandemic in 2003, where UV was used and proved incredibly effective in South East Asian hospitals once again against the latest SARS Coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The spread of the virus around the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which hit global headlines in January 2020 when more than 700 passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19, has become a case-in-point for the theory behind the airborne transmission. Killing airborne contaminants Part F of the Building Regulations on ventilation has been updated and is out to consultation Researchers from Harvard and the Illinois Institute of Technology developed a computer model of the cruise ship outbreak, which found that the virus spread most readily in microscopic droplets light enough to linger in the air. The research added to the pressure already being placed on the World Health Organization to recognize the airborne dangers of the virus, including an open letter signed by more than 200 experts. The key point here is that there has been some level of recognition from various government departments that the virus is airborne, and they have mitigated accordingly. Part F of the Building Regulations on ventilation has been updated and is out to consultation, and the Health and Safety Executive’s COVID-Secure Guidance for the Workplace on Ventilation has also been quietly updated in recent weeks to recommend the use of ultraviolet air filtration systems, which are proven to kill airborne contaminants. Key communication issue These UK regulations are now, at last, starting to get more aligned to other global institutions’ recommendations such at the renowned Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who support the importance of ventilation and UV devices to significantly reduce infection risk. This is a positive step, but the key communication issue is that if the government don’t fully endorse and be more vocal about the airborne threat of COVID-19, and regulatory changes being made, then neither will the wider public. This is a huge issue because the government is already preparing for this virus to be around in some form for many years to come. With 40 million doses of vaccine set to arrive in 2022 and an overall supply line that is set to last until 2025, it’s clear that there is an acknowledgment that this will be a long fight. The SAGE scientists like Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance are also referring to this virus as endemic now. Long-Term readiness The government is already building long-term readiness and diluting the risks by using different suppliers With 407 million doses of vaccine on order, the government is already building long-term readiness and diluting the risks by using different suppliers, but without the acknowledgment of the airborne risks, this can only do so much – it needs to be a joined-up, blended approach. Prevention is better than the alternative because in this case, there is unlikely to be a cure for a virus that spreads and mutates at the rate this one does. Trying to keep ahead of this virus is a dangerous game. It is incredibly adaptable and there is an awful lot of guesswork about predicting the spread and virulence of new and more easily spread strains. Ongoing lockdowns are simply not an option and are increasingly ineffective as people struggle with the monotony and isolation they bring. We need to get on the front foot and not only rely purely on medicine to help solve this crisis. Air filtration systems Engineered solutions like UV-C (also known as UVGI) and air filtration systems are needed wherever possible to help cut this virus at the knees and stop transmission in the first instance. These solutions are now being brought in by several industries and many countries around the world are specifically recommending them because they are recognizing that the guidelines in their current form aren’t doing enough. Those industries such as food manufacturing and production that rely on having people on the ground and in their factories are having to look beyond what they are advised and finding solutions that actually do work. Hospitals, schools, and hotels are the next places that need to be looking at this kind of response, especially with the government’s travel regulations meaning that potentially infected travelers are being kept in potentially inadequately ventilated spaces that could actually accelerate contagion spread to other travelers or staff. Action needs to be taken now, or we risk the further unnecessary spread of this dangerous pathogen.
According to the latest statistics, Britain now has the highest daily COVID-19 death rate in the World, following an unfortunate record month of fatalities during January 2021. While UK Government is quick to defend this statistic, the fact remains that our country has been crippled by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and now, as the population battles through yet another lockdown, it seems that the only 'way out’ is through widespread vaccination. impact of COVID-19 Though imperative, this strategy emphasizes the real challenge that Governments across the globe have faced in trying to control this virus; that reducing the transmission or ‘R rate’ is reliant on the behaviors of people. People who have lived with some form of restrictions for too long, people who are frustrated and tired of the impact COVID-19 has had on their businesses, and people who have simply lost trust in Government U-turns and last-minute decisions. What’s more, despite the best efforts of millions to comply with restrictions, the virus itself is one that is hard to contain, particularly with asymptomatic cases unknowingly passing it to others in key locations like supermarkets or via public transport. Regardless of this challenge, there is a solution that doesn’t rely on changing people’s behaviors, but rather in changing the environment in which people live, work and socialize. That solution is the implementation of Active Air Purification Technology. What Is Active Air Purification Technology? Active air purification technology is effective in every cubic cm of indoor air and surface space simultaneously and continuously Most air purification technologies are passive in that they can only have any effect when the air containing the pollutant comes into close proximity or passes through the unit. Examples of this are filtration, UV-C, and various PCO and ionization technologies. In other words, certain operational conditions must be met in order for them to be effective. Active air purification technology is not limited in this way and is effective in every cubic cm of indoor air and surface space simultaneously and continuously. This means pollutants, like viruses and bacteria, are instantly treated no matter where or when in the indoor space they are emitted or exposed which is significant in the context of COVID transmission. Whether required to mitigate microbials, allergens, or dangerous gases and VOCs, active technology offers a unique solution to destroying microbials instantly, offering a safer, cleaner, and more effective approach to air purification in domestic, commercial, and industrial environments. REME Air Purification Technology REME is an active air purification technology developed and patented 15 years ago by RGF Environmental Group, a COVID critical environmental innovator and manufacturer headquartered in the United States. Using no chemicals or harmful substances, REME comprises a number of known air purification technologies and sciences in one product. Its active capability works by producing and maintaining similar concentrations of hydrogen peroxide molecules as those found in the outdoor air and combines a process of bipolar ionization. When coming into contact with microbials, the naturally occurring ionized molecules break them down, destroy them and then revert them back to harmless water vapor and oxygen. The bipolar ionization effect causes other airborne particulates to agglomerate together causing them to become larger and heavier and drop out of their air or get captured in HVAC filters. RGF’s REME air purification technology produces 1 quadrillion ionized hydrogen peroxide molecules every second, quickly and safely killing any airborne virus or bacteria, including SARS-CoV-2 on a continuous basis. Its effectiveness has been verified by nationally accredited independent labs and testing bodies in the US and by other governments in numerous tests over two decades, with results also confirming a 99%+ inactivation for highly infectious viruses and bacteria, such as H1N1 or ‘Swine Flu’, SARS, Norovirus, MRSA and Bird Flu, just to name a few. Vaccinate Environments And People Air purification technology drives down the R rate for good by effectively vaccinating the air in which the virus circulates In understanding exactly how active air purification technology works and its capability to successfully destroy COVID-19, it’s clear that it presents an opportunity to drive down the R rate for good by effectively vaccinating the air in which the virus circulates. This strategy is already working its way through the United States with leading brands, like restaurant chain TGI Friday, installing active air purification technology across all establishments and has also caught the attention of renowned insurance market, Lloyds of London, which has installed the technology across all UK offices to ensure its 5,000 plus staff members can return safely to work. Improving the environment For nearly 12 months the world has been coping with COVID-19, describing it as an ‘unprecedented period’ where there is no clear end. However, in vaccinating both people and the environment in which it lives, the virus can be controlled once and for all. Ultimately, with a crippled economy, in excess of 100,000 deaths and a generation of children impacted by the closure of schools, now is the time to accelerate response and change the environments in which the virus circulates, not just the people.
Combining superior performance and reliability, new Ultima Diaphragm Flush Valves from American Standard are built to reduce maintenance and save water in commercial applications. The flush valves, available for commercial urinals and toilets, feature exclusive and proprietary DynaClean Technology, engineered to stop valve run-on. Those who have stepped foot in a public restroom with a toilet continuously running have experienced the most prevalent problem with diaphragm flush valves. A clogged refill orifice causes the valve to continuously run and not shut off, which can potentially waste one to two gallons of water per minute. To prevent valve run-on, each Ultima Diaphragm Flush Valve has a DynaClean Wiper Spring, American Standard’s exclusive self-cleaning technology, which cleans the refill orifice with every flush. chlorine-resistant material Ultima Diaphragm Flush Valve is available through top distributors and at plumbing supply houses nationwide The wiper spring keeps the orifice clear of debris and mineral build-up, helping to deliver maximum performance with every flush while saving on water usage and maintenance costs. With toughness and reliability in mind, the Ultima Diaphragm Flush Valve is equipped with a proprietary EvoLast Diaphragm, designed to outperform and outlast diaphragm flush valves from industry competitors. The EvoLast Diaphragm is made of a premium chlorine-resistant material that delivers consistent performance and resists premature deterioration and failure from water treatment chemicals. Ultima Diaphragm Flush Valves are fitted for the following American Standard commercial products: Urinals Washbrook urinal 6145 Series Manual Urinal Flush Valves (0.125, 0.5 and 1.0 gpf) 6145SM Series Sensor-Operated Urinal Flush Valves (0.125, 0.5 and 1.0 gpf) Toilets Madera toilet 6147 Series Manual Toilet Flush Valves (1.1, 1.28 and 1.6 gpf) 6147SM Series Sensor-Operated Toilet Flush Valves (1.1, 1.28 and 1.6 gpf) diaphragm flush valves Two easy retrofit options offer facility operation and maintenance professional’s flexibility and a streamlined approach to improve performance. Most piston and diaphragm flush valves can be replaced with the Ultima Diaphragm Valve thanks to industry standard rough-in dimensions, or Ultima Diaphragm Assemblies can be installed in flush valves from other major manufacturers to help ensure reliability in existing applications. Both installation options deliver the added benefits of DynaClean and EvoLast. The Ultima Diaphragm Flush Valve is available through top distributors and at plumbing supply houses nationwide.
There is an enormous labor shortage in the skilled trades, and women have stepped up to assume many positions beyond office work alone. Throughout the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) industry, women are proving to be excellent technicians, service managers, sales people, marketers and more. Networking, mentoring, and education The increasing role of women in the HVACR industry is reflected in the rapid growth of Women in HVACR, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of its members by empowering women to succeed through networking, mentoring, and education. With a massive labor shortage, women make up a large untapped resource for a potential workforce to fill jobs Approximately 53% of the current skilled-trade workforce is 45 years or older. Estimates say that by 2022, 115,000 new jobs will be available. Currently only 4% of HVACR industry jobs are held by women, with only 1% of field technician jobs held by women. With a massive labor shortage, women make up a large untapped resource for a potential workforce to fill jobs. Members from virtually every sector of the HVACR field “Our organization has snowballed in growth, year over year, providing new avenues for networking, partnerships, collaboration and personal development,” says Danielle Putnam, 2019 Women in HVACR President. “For women excited about growing their careers in the HVACR industry, this organization supports each other and is unashamed to show vulnerability so we can better connect with each other to support and help.” The first international organization for women in the industry, Women in HVACR has 447 current members from virtually every sector of the HVACR field from technicians to contractors, distributors, wholesalers, manufacturers and more, at every level. The organization offers free student memberships as well. There are currently 79 participants in the mentorship program, and the Ambassador Program in 2019 has seven Ambassadors Mentorship programs Member benefits include scholarship opportunities, mentorship programs, a member-only online directory by state, and bi-weekly Zoom video conference calls. Additional benefits include regular updates on Facebook and LinkedIn, an annual conference, and quarterly newsletters. Members can serve as an ambassador for WHVACR and can participate in member-only discussions through HVAC-Talk (a knowledge sharing website), Service Roundtable (a site sharing contractor tips), and HARDI (an organization of distributors). The organization has awarded $19,000 in HVACR Scholarships since 2015. Sponsorship and membership have grown. There are currently 79 participants in the mentorship program, and the brand-new Ambassador Program in 2019 has seven Ambassadors and five scheduled events. Member Involvement “One of our key initiatives for 2019 is member involvement,” says Putnam. “We are focusing on this by setting strategic goals within each board committee to better engage our members. Women love to multi-task and get involved – it is our nature – so we want to make sure the communication channels are open wide and everyone clearly understands how vital they are to the networking, education and mentoring within our organization.” “Women in HVACR is a name that so many want to get behind and support, get involved and be a part of something,” says Putnam. “Member involvement is huge.” Given the interest generated during the panel discussion, Ruth King applied for status as a non-profit organization under the name Women in HVACR Women in HVACR The organization’s growth comes from humble beginnings. In 2002 during the AHR Expo in Chicago, Ruth King and Gwen Hoskins began a discussion about the increased number of women joining the HVACR industry and the need for a way to share knowledge and experience through networking while encouraging and supporting one another. This conversation between two women was the catalyst for the organization. From this simple discussion, a panel discussion was hosted by Comfortech entitled: Women in The Industry during the 2003 conference held in Dallas in conjunction with the Contracting Business Woman of the Year breakfast. The panel consisted of four women within the HVACR industry and was attended by approximately 40 people. From there, given the interest generated during the panel discussion, by the end of the year Ruth King had applied for status as a non-profit organization under the name Women in HVACR. As so it began. Advice To Women We have many male members, and even one male Mentor in our Mentorship program"Currently there are 70 or so sponsors of the organization at various levels. Top-tier Diamond Sponsors are PROPARTS HVAC Parts and Supplies, Ingersoll Rand, Trane, American Standard, York, Johnson Controls, Allied Air Enterprises, Magi-Pak, COSCO and Armstrong Air. One misconception about the Women in HVACR organization is that it is a women-only group. “Though we are a group whose mission is to support women in the HVACR industry, there is no requirement that you be a woman to fulfill this role,” says Karen DeSousa, Women in HVACR Vice President. “We have many male members, and even one male Mentor in our Mentorship program.” What’s the organization’s advice to women entering the HVACR field? “Don’t give up!” says DeSousa. “Though you will experience setbacks and hurdles in many forms, this industry is worth the long hours, sometimes difficult working conditions, endless need for continuing education and more.”
A notable New York City building owner is setting a high bar in energy efficiency and sustainability upgrades. Trane, global provider of indoor comfort solutions, and a brand of Ingersoll Rand, has recognized SL Green Realty Corp. with an Energy Efficiency Leader Award for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to best energy practices. SL Green engaged Trane to install two energy efficient centrifugal chillers and 1.37MW of thermal energy storage at its iconic 11 Madison Avenue building in New York City. This Trane Thermal Battery cooling system behaves like a battery, charging CALMAC thermal batteries when excess or inexpensive energy is available, and discharging when demand or price is high. Trane Thermal Battery cooling system During peak cooling season, the thermal batteries produce more than 500,000 pounds of ice each night During peak cooling season, the thermal batteries produce more than 500,000 pounds of ice each night. The ice then cools off the building during the day, significantly decreasing SL Green’s carbon footprint, energy consumption and operating costs. Through the ice battery installation, SL Green has lowered tenant energy cost by 10 percent, reduced energy and operating costs by more than US$ 730,000 annually and decreased carbon emissions by 1.4 million pounds – the equivalent of taking more than 130 cars off the road or planting 188 acres of trees. Energy Efficiency Leader Awards “The Energy Efficiency Leader Awards recognize businesses and institutions that demonstrate impactful contributions towards environmental sustainability,” said Donny Simmons, president, Trane Commercial HVAC, North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “SL Green is a perfect fit; the smart energy practices at 11 Madison Avenue prove business and environmental goals can work hand in hand for a more sustainable future.” The Thermal Battery system plays an integral role in helping SL Green reach its portfolio-wide sustainability goal of 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, along with its commitments to New York State and New York City energy mandates of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. Energy efficient practices “SL Green capitalizes on every opportunity we have to reduce our carbon footprint because we have a responsibility to our tenants, our partners and New York City as a whole,” said Edward V. Piccinich, Chief Operating Officer, SL Green Realty Corp. “This innovation is a worthwhile investment, both operationally and financially. We’re honored to be recognized by Trane for leading the way.” SL Green’s and Trane’s commitments to sustainability extend beyond energy efficient practices; the companies share similar goals focused on enhancing quality of life and climate action: SL Green is committed to transforming the built office environments; to mitigate climate change and provide a high quality of life for all New Yorkers. The company’s vision has been manifested through the development of One Vanderbilt, a new, Class A office tower where all design, construction, and operational elements prioritize environmental stewardship and societal responsibility. Trane is meeting the challenge of climate change through bold 2030 Sustainability Commitments. Its Gigaton Challenge is designed to reduce the customer carbon footprint from buildings, homes and transportation by one gigaton1 CO2e, while leading by example in its own operations – achieving carbon neutral and net positive water operations