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HVAC Maintenance Vital As Businesses Reopen Post COVID-19
HVAC Maintenance Vital As Businesses Reopen Post COVID-19

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.  

Change Environments Not Behaviors: How Active Air Filtration Can Help the UK Come Out of Lockdown Long-Term
Change Environments Not Behaviors: How Active Air Filtration Can Help the UK Come Out of Lockdown Long-Term

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. 

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.

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