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The Role Of ‘Smart’ HVAC In The Buildings Of The Future
The Role Of ‘Smart’ HVAC In The Buildings Of The Future

The last 18 months have seen an acceleration in digitalization across many aspects of work and home life. Home spaces have become workspaces, and commercial buildings have had to adapt to changed use and lower occupancy rates. Coupled with this, there is a growing need to dramatically reduce carbon emissions from buildings - according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the buildings and construction sectors combined are responsible for over 30 percent of global energy consumption, and nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions. Installing separate systems This means that demand for a smarter approach to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) management is crucial for building managers, who need to ensure that their properties can adapt to changed use, respond to the wellbeing of their occupants, and run efficiently to keep emissions as low as possible. Armed with this data, facility managers can take proactive steps to improve usage Of course, architects and developers have been installing separate systems to control HVAC for decades which have given building managers greater control and access to different areas of a site. However, with digitalization comes the addition of web-based platforms to allow these verticals to integrate seamlessly with each other, providing data on how efficiently and effectively a building operates through a single view application. Armed with this data, facility managers can take proactive steps to improve usage, which will see properties proactively react to the environmental and personal needs of their occupants. Centrally controlled lighting Many commercial buildings will already have a certain element of smart technology installed – from centrally controlled lighting and HVAC systems to remote management of security and energy management systems. However, it is often the case that these multiple applications are managed in silo. This means facilities managers don’t have a consolidated view of their data. In addition, not all managers will be using the data these devices produce to take steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their properties. Embracing smart technology – and a central control platform - gives building managers access to instant data on how their HVAC assets are performing in one place. This insight can be used to gain a thorough understanding of how the different systems in the building interact, and the external factors that may impact them. Effective building controls By using this data, operators can implement effective building controls to manage efficiencies By using this data, operators can implement effective building controls to manage efficiencies, identify maintenance issues, ensure the wellbeing of occupants, and inform future investment priorities. So, for example, if a building is now being used in a different way due to changed occupancy, the data will show the manager what needs to be done to ensure it is operating as efficiently as possible. We know that there will be increased demand for more flexible spaces as companies move towards remote or hybrid working models. It is likely that we will visit our offices less for day-to-day work and use them more as hubs to meet and collaborate. The ability to turn a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ building into an agile asset that can learn and adapt to its surroundings will become increasingly important. Smart HVAC management Smart offices will become independently intelligent, learning how occupants use the space and services, adjusting lighting, HVAC and other systems to maximize health and comfort. Smart HVAC management will create a trend for ‘healthier’ buildings that will have a positive impact in terms of improved quality of life and wellbeing of occupants, ultimately resulting in higher productivity levels. In short, there has never been a better time to adopt smart HVAC technologies. Intelligent buildings that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago are now a reality. As buildings become smarter, they can learn how occupants use the space and services and proactively adjust lighting, HVAC and other systems to improve use, cut emissions and reduce energy consumption.

Striking The Right Balance Between Energy Efficiency And Indoor Infection Transmission Reductions
Striking The Right Balance Between Energy Efficiency And Indoor Infection Transmission Reductions

As we continue to grapple with COVID two very clear future objectives have emerged: The need for safer and healthier indoor environments to protect against SARS-CoV-2 and other infectious microbial. Acceleration of UK’s net zero by 2050 plan - 78% reduction by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. Last week a group of world-renowned scientists published a paper entitled ‘A paradigm shift to combat indoor respiratory infection’ affirming the need for improved building ventilation systems to deliver better more effective control of the indoor infectious transmission. This paper proposes increased ventilation rates and the distribution of‘ clean disinfected air’ and the use of ‘ultraviolet devices while avoiding unproven technologies.’ Energy efficiency improvements According to UK GBC, the built environment contributes 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint Whilst we can all agree with the end game objective it must be noted that ventilation air change increases, which is the primary COVID mitigation, are likely to significantly increase the UK’s carbon emissions when we go back to work. Boris Johnson’s government announced on 20 April 2021 its plans to reduce carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. According to UK GBC, the built environment contributes 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint and approx 80% of 2050 buildings have already been built. Further, according to the Local Government Association, in order to achieve Net Zero by 2050 close to 28 million buildings will need retrofit energy efficiency improvements which will, in turn, need retrofit ventilation improvements to avoid consequential IAQ and health problems. Quite clearly, the challenge of decarburization of energy and heating and ventilation improvement is in existing property stock space and it is quite simply enormous - at least 1 million per year. Ventilation improvement strategies We have been focused on making buildings more energy-efficient for years by specifying or retrofitting improved insulation characteristics but in many cases, this has resulted in under ventilation and created consequential issues of IAQ and related health problems especially in naturally ventilated buildings which are the predominant strategy for domestic properties. This has created an increased demand for retrofit ventilation improvement strategies such as PIV and since the pandemic and the revelation that the primary transmission route is airborne, this demand has increased further. This has created an increased demand for retrofit ventilation improvement strategies such as PIV Official guidance states the primary mitigation is increased fresh air ventilation air changes with any mechanical recirculation processes turned down significantly or off altogether. At its heart is the logic that increased ventilation air changes beyond current levels will blow the virus away combined with turned off recirculation processes reducing the ability for the virus to spread thus resulting in an overall reduction of the risk of transmission. Increased ventilation rates Whilst fundamentally sound there are a number of consequential issues that must be recognized: Ventilation is a dilution/displacement process. It does not destroy viral emissions, it just blows live emissions around so the risk of transmission can arguably be increased if people are downstream. There are various academic studies that affirm this view such as the University of Oklahoma. Ventilation also provides no protection to surface contaminations. Increased fresh air ventilation rates make buildings significantly less energy efficient. Windows must be opened and left open for naturally ventilated spaces and mechanical systems must be turned up and all heat recovery processes turned off. This also makes buildings colder during colder months which affects occupant comfort, health, and productivity. Increased ventilation rates increase outdoor pollution ingress which can create similar consequential problems of IAQ and cause health problems or worse as the recent ruling by the Coroner in the case of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah shows, whose tragic death was caused by an asthma attack brought on by air pollution. Mechanical HVAC systems This is not surprising considering one of the benefits of HVAC recirculation is heat recovery Evidence from various UK corporates whose buildings incorporate ducted mechanical HVAC systems has shown that energy consumption across their estates whilst following official guidance has not just increased but has skyrocketed especially over the winter months. This is not surprising considering one of the benefits of HVAC recirculation is heat recovery. All of this heat recovery benefit is lost when following the official guidance. Similarly, domestic homeowners and tenants especially whose properties are naturally ventilated would have seen increases in energy costs over the winter if leaving doors and windows open (although many would have chosen not to open windows when they know it will increase costs and make the property colder). Evidence, therefore, shows that from an energy efficiency and carbon footprint perspective we have been going backwards since the pandemic hit which begs the question. How is it going to be possible to meet the 2050 carbon reduction targets? Air disinfection molecules Just as we improved energy efficiency through insulation but created IAQ and health problems we are now improving (apparently) infection control at the expense of energy efficiency. What is needed is a strategy that delivers one AND the other not one at the expense of the other. A strategy that will effectively reduce the risk of infectious transmission in our indoor spaces without penalizing energy efficiency. A strategy that will effectively reduce the risk of infectious transmission in our indoor spaces Active air purification that creates a safe-to-breathe equilibrium concentration of natural air disinfection molecules throughout the indoor space offers a credible, realistic, safe, and affordable solution and is just as easily retrofitted as it is applied to new build. Photohydroionization or PHI is a tried, tested, and proven technology that achieves instant and continuous ‘point of transmission’ elimination of infectious microbials whether in the air or on surfaces. Ingress outdoor pollution PHI also instantly treats any ingress outdoor pollution such as particulates as well as indoor originated pollution such as odors, VOCs and allergens (pet dander, dust mite fecal matter). Developed and patented over 20 years ago in the US with over 5 million installations in over 60 countries around the world, PHI is designed for quick and easy retrofit into new and existing buildings, either integrated into any HVAC supply infrastructure or installed standalone on walls or ceilings. PHI is probably the most scrutinized of all air purification technologies having been subjected to numerous safety and efficacy tests by nationally accredited labs and testing bodies over 2 decades as well as in real-world customer settings such as Lloyds of London. Its SARS-CoV-2 performance credentials are peerless with no equivalent in public health and academic settings, showing 4+ log continuous reductions over a 24 hour period against nebulized emissions every 15 mins throughout a 1,280 ft3 chamber. Ionized hydroperoxide molecules PHI works by mimicking Earth’s atmospheric air cleaning processes indoors PHI works by mimicking Earth’s atmospheric air cleaning processes indoors. It produces an equilibrium concentration of ionized hydroperoxide molecules in similar concentrations to the outside air - 0.01-0.04ppm so is perfectly safe to breathe. These molecules are throughout the indoor environment which breaks down and destroys infectious microbials and other organics such as VOCs, odors, gases on contact before reverting back to harmless water vapor and oxygen afterward. Most importantly PHI is not reliant on air movement to blow the live virus away or toward passive technologies like filters or UV so it does not penalize building energy efficiency. Indeed, PHI allows the continued safe use of HVAC recirculation processes because the equilibrium effect effectively disables the ability for any virus to transmit. PHI is also not behavior dependent and is constantly working in the background regardless of there actions or behaviors of building occupants. In other words, it provides a unique extra layer of protection to building occupants beyond the current mitigations. Improved indoor protections Given the fact that PHI equilibrium can achieve strategic and continuous protections throughout indoor spaces without relying on ventilation air change increases beyond current levels, it could be regarded as a more realistic strategy to achieve the objectives of improved indoor protections against infectious microbials and the 2050 carbon emission reduction targets. PHI could be quickly and easily retrofitted into all existing buildings and indoor spaces Further, PHI could be quickly and easily retrofitted into all existing buildings and indoor spaces and specified for all new builds going forward, thus achieving rapid transformation to safer and healthier indoor environments. Buildings with mechanical HVAC strategies that were meeting the requirements of Part F entering the pandemic i.e. almost every commercial building will not need ventilation air change increases for the purposes of infectious transmission control after PHI has been retrofitted. Naturally ventilated buildings Those that were not should be subject to an HVAC performance audit by a suitably qualified HVAC professional who would recommend improvements or a change to a new strategy. The UK’s 2050 energy efficiency targets will be best served if all of the UK’s approaching 28 million naturally ventilated buildings are retrofitted with energy efficient mechanical ventilation performance improvements. Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) is the go to strategy for these retrofits. Unlike centralized Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR), PIV was originally conceived as an affordable retrofit strategy to solve condensation and mold problems without having to open windows. It is quick and easy to install and is one of the most common whole house strategies in the UK with millions of public and private sector installations dating back to the 1980s. Mechanical ventilation performance It will simultaneously improve IAQ helping to create the healthiest indoor environments It delivers predictable and reliable mechanical ventilation performance at virtually no electricity cost, it increases ventilation air change rates without the need to open windows and it offers important energy efficiency benefits - energy recovery from solar gain amounting to approx 500kW per year according to Energy Saving Trust for lofted properties and optimized floor to ceiling heat distribution through destratification which optimizes thermostat controlled energy consumption. To summarize, PHI’s tried, tested, and proven ‘point of transmission’ treatment of viruses and microbials will create the safest indoor environments it is possible to create without penalizing the enormous energy efficiency gains made over recent years which are now being eroded. It will simultaneously improve IAQ helping to create the healthiest indoor environments paving the way for improved health, wellbeing, and productivity at home and in the workplace across our society.

Why Should Schools And Universities Invest In Indoor Air Quality?
Why Should Schools And Universities Invest In Indoor Air Quality?

The education field was faced with multiple challenges this past year. Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic bring the necessity of online learning, but it has also brought up necessary changes to physical schools and universities, when reopening time arrives. The health and safety of students, staff, and faculty has become a priority for directors of school operations, who have been working to properly adapt school facilities to this new reality we are facing. Ensuring health and safety of students Besides safety measures like the addition of hand sanitizers, reinforcing the use of masks and social distancing, these professionals were faced with an even bigger and more important issue: ventilation and airflow indoors. School facilities have many unique features that increase the concerns regarding indoor air quality. Occupants are usually very close together, considering that school buildings have four times as many occupants as office buildings for the same amount of floor space (EPA). Variety of pollutant sources According to the WHO, the virus can also spread in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings Other issues include tight budgets, the presence of a variety of pollutant sources (including specialty classrooms, like art, gyms, and labs), concentrated diesel exhaust exposure due to school buses in the property, and a large amount of heating and ventilation systems that may cause an added strain on maintenance staff. On top of that, schools usually have to worry about child safety issues, concerned parents, and wellbeing of faculty and staff. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus can also spread in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings, where people tend to spend longer periods of time and aerosols particles tend to be suspended in the air, which leads to the importance of indoor air quality in classrooms. Importance of natural ventilation and HVAC systems Natural ventilation and HVAC systems are the basic methods to bring clean air indoors, however, schools that rely only on these methods of ventilation need to be aware of their potential limitations. HVAC systems, for example, should have regular maintenance checks and filter changes, in cases where the system is less sophisticated, schools need to add new forms of air purification to effectively mitigate airborne pathogens. Studies showing quality of air in US schools Studies have shown that low-standards HVAC ventilation systems may contribute to airborne diseases transmission due to low air exchanges rates, poor maintenance and lack of high-efficiency filters. For this reason, portable air cleaners are becoming more and more popular to create a healthy learning environment. EnviroKlenz, an indoor air quality company, conducted real-life setting studies to show the quality of the air in schools in different areas of the United States. The study measured the amount of particulate matter in classrooms, with and without the use of additional portable filtration systems, which allowed for comparison and analysis of the benefits a portable air cleaner can provide. National EPA standards for indoor particulate matter The study also compared the current data to the national EPA standards for indoor particulate matter (PM), in order to evaluate the performance of the EnviroKlenz Air System Plus. The IAQ meters focused on PM1, which is about 1 micrometer in size (70 times smaller than the diameter of human hair!). The systems ran in operational educational environments, with daily schedules being carried out as usual and results can be seen below. School directors of operations also must pay attention to the different technologies available in portable air cleaners. With the growth of the industry, new emerging technologies have come up, and there’s still lack of third-party testing to prove their efficacy. Other technologies, like carbon filters, do not work against airborne pathogens and may release harmful byproducts back into the environment. EnviroKlenz Air System Plus EnviroKlenz Air System Plus, which utilizes a patented earth mineral technology to capture pathogens, is at 99.9% efficiency The EnviroKlenz Air System Plus, which utilizes a patented earth mineral technology to capture virus, bacteria and other harmful pathogens, is at 99.9% efficiency and is complemented by a medical-grade HEPA filter and UV-C lights, was also tested against a carbon-based air cleaner in a classroom. As shown below, the carbon system struggled to keep consistency, with peaks and valleys throughout the day. Meanwhile, when the EnviroKlenz Air System Plus was turned on, the PM1 levels were steadily low for over 4 consecutive days. Deploying portable air cleaners in classrooms Adding a portable air cleaner to classrooms and common areas will increase air exchange rate and mitigation efforts, but the long-term benefits go beyond the pandemic. Studies have shown that good indoor air and ventilation rates are directly linked with students’ academic achievements and can increase performance. High CO2 levels in a school environment are also associated with lower average annual attendance and worse individual test performance. Other long-term benefits include reducing symptoms of those who suffer from respiratory diseases and creating a favorable environment not only for students, but also for teachers and staff; while bringing a sense of comfort and well-being to parents and the community. Combined benefits of air filtration, ventilation, and purification “When we’re operating more normally, maybe we’ll be able to cut down on some of the traditional flu-peaks that schools have, or cold peaks, that kids just bring into school, by managing the airborne virus and bacteria quality,” said Peter Twadell, Head of School at Birches School in the US, and an EnviroKlenz Customer. School officials need to consider the combined benefits offered by filtration, ventilation, and purification methods to create the healthiest environment possible. Thinking in a pandemic-conscious mindset, air quality has gained the recognition it deserves in creating a proper and healthy learning environment.

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