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Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) - Expert Commentary

2021 Technology Trends In The HVAC Industry
2021 Technology Trends In The HVAC Industry

As we look back at 2020, we are all reflecting on the year that was, and what we have learned from it. In the HVAC space, the year provided us with opportunities for growth and change, as we adjusted to our “new normal.” Here’s a look at some of the HVAC trends we see happening now taking hold as we head into 2021. Advancements and applications in indoor air quality - especially in HVAC space (SF / MF / CRE) 2020 was filled with starts and stops with regards to innovation. Covid-19 halted work in some facilities altogether earlier in the year. The pandemic has brought with it a re-energized interest in the air quality around us, especially in the public sector. There has been a newfound imperative in creating indoor air quality solutions that ensure that air is circulated, sanitized and purified to reduce the likelihood of the spread of sickness. This is a massive issue and 2021 will see growing efforts in these areas and the increased introduction of systems that will purify air quality. HVAC building systems Continued push toward energy efficiency (mainly SF but also CRE) Energy efficiency will be an ongoing issue into the foreseeable future. Once we have looked back at 2020’s carbon emission reductions (because fewer people were flying and driving) there will be no turning back. The same can be said for HVAC. Increased efficiency will continue to be an ongoing pursuit in 2021 and beyond. On average, HVAC appliances consume 48% of a household’s total energy usage. The latest generation of smart thermostats that use the newer 410A refrigerant have brought about reduced energy consumption by up to 35% optimizing how HVAC building systems are operated (reducing the possibility of leaving the AC on too long, and when it’s not necessary to use). convenience and energy savings Increase in supply chain management / platform services HVAC services such as those that collect and manage data including HVAC unit age, efficiency and condition at the property and portfolio level will continue to see increased adoption. These convenience and energy savings they provide is being seen in the multi-family and commercial space, especially with some building owners having been grounded by the pandemic in 2020. New construction had a role in expanding interest in HVAC asset tagging and helping it gain traction in the industry The data gathered by these services can be used in the future to predict HVAC system failures with significant accuracy before they happen. The convenience and potential cost savings acquired by implementing these services will continue to push their popularity into 2021. Additionally, it is interesting to note that new construction in 2020 had a role in expanding interest in HVAC asset tagging and helping it gain traction in the industry. Cataloguing HVAC assets ensures the follow up and guarantees that warranty registration holds and can help track future maintenance during a hold. At the time of sale, the current owner can present true data of the maintenance of these systems, which can increase the current value of the property and can also be used as a tool in negotiation. performing regular maintenance Remote monitoring can be the end to end solution that completes the action behind the alert (CRE mainly) Remote monitoring will continue to see adoption in 2021. Service providers will continue to rely less and less on clients identifying and reporting a problem a heating/cooling issue. The complaint from the tenant may come in some hours after the problem actually starts, and then by the time they get a service request completed, several hours more. And by the time the contractor is on the scene, it is likely more time has elapsed. Remote monitoring also results in regular maintenance, extending the lifetime of a HVAC system. By proactively performing regular maintenance, the overall costs of maintaining a system can be reduced by 40 percent, in addition to ensuring that units are always using the least amount of energy necessary. seamless customer experience Consolidation of HVAC services and equipment - the way people buy - turnkey integrated services One stop shopping for HVAC services and equipment gained popularity in 2020 One stop shopping for HVAC services and equipment gained popularity in 2020 and we will continue to see increased traction in 2021. There are many reasons why developers what to buy equipment directly from the manufacturer, such as convenience, working with a supplier because of its reputation, cost and guarantees on product and services. As more developers buy equipment directly, these manufacturers are responding by helping out with mechanical drawings. This process cuts down the supply chain, allows certainty that correct equipment is quoted, and saves money. The HVAC industry is also turning the corner in becoming more proactive in remediating failing assets and contractors are redoubling their efforts to provide a seamless customer experience increasing customer satisfaction for multi-family communities as well as other means of optimization of services that positively impact tenants, helping increase retention. HVAC providers that can manage the entire process from installation, to job request to invoicing, even reporting and tracking for each job, will be increasingly in demand in 2021.

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

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

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

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

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