A University of Oregon study has found viral RNA from SARS-CoV-2 in the air handling units (AHUs) of a healthcare facility, thus raising new questions about the possible role of HVAC systems in spreading the novel coronavirus. The study collected 56 samples from three different air handling units at the Oregon Health and Science University hospital in Portland, Ore., on four days in May and June 2020. Three areas along the path of airflow were sampled, including pre-filters, finals filters, and...
Lower prices in the oil and gas industry have led to job losses as the sector has contracted recently, and that was even before the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked additional havoc on the national and world economies. The COVID-19 crisis is accelerating what was already shaping up to be one of the oil industry’s most challenging years. More than a dozen oil companies have declared bankruptcy so far in the United States alone, and widespread industry layoffs are expected to continue. Oil field...
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published guidance for businesses seeking to return to work during the coronavirus pandemic. Guidelines include instructions for businesses to ‘improve central air filtration to MERV-13 or the highest [standard] compatible with the filter rack, and to seal edges of the filter to limit bypass.’ MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. A MERV-13 rating means a filter is able to catch 90% of particles in the 3-10 micro...
As businesses seek a return to normal following the global pandemic, they also face the prospect of new hurdles if the worst of the virus reemerges. Uncertainty reigns, and businesses do not know whether day-to-day operations will return to normal in six months, a year or two from now – or never. In a survey by the American Supply Association (ASA), 27.3% of respondents expect operations to return to pre-COVID-19 levels in two to three months, and 25% say it will be four to six months. B...
HVAC systems should operate to ensure the comfort of individuals, not based on the temperature in a room. That’s the thinking behind a system devised by researchers that uses thermal cameras to measure the temperatures of faces in a room and adjusts operation of the HVAC system accordingly. Among other things, the scheme shifts the focus away from facilities and toward occupants, who reflect a truer measure of system effectiveness. Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed...
Johnson Controls, a global provider of smart and sustainable buildings, is launching OpenBlue - a complete suite of connected solutions and services that combine the Company’s 135 years of building expertise with cutting-edge technology. This open digital platform, when integrated with Johnson Controls core building systems and enhanced by Fortune 100 technology partners, will make shared spaces safer, more agile and more sustainable. Johnson Controls OpenBlue is the culmination of years...
Since the inception, Johnson Controls has delivered products, services and solutions to keep the communities - safe, sustainable and healthy. As an “Essential Products, Services and Personnel Provider,” Johnson Controls says it will continue to support the mission during the current crisis and beyond. Committed to Healthcare Healthcare facilities are facing a large influx of patients, staff and visitors as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds. Johnson Controls can help immediately mobilize and staff, mitigate the impact, and increase safety. Specific solutions are: Healthcare overall solutions and capabilities. Healthcare security solutions. Healthcare fire solutions. Healthcare HVAC solutions. Healthcare facilities are facing a large influx of patients, staff and visitors as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds. Johnson Controls can help immediately mobilize and staff, mitigate the impact, and increase safety. Working together to lessen the impact of COVID-19 From setting up alternative care facilities for crisis response, to helping customers accelerate construction or address deferred maintenance issues in empty buildings. Johnson Controls teams are actively supporting customers and communities. Ready to Mobilize Johnson Controls’ experts can rapidly mobilize technical resources to help customers and communities meet their needs, protect staff, lessen the impact of the current issues, and get ahead of the crisis. Johnson Controls also offers financing options to help one preserve valuable cash and improve the safety of one's facility. Here are some ways Johnson Controls can help: Solutions and Capabilities for K-12. Solutions and Capabilities for Higher Education. Solutions and Capabilities for Public Housing. Solutions and Capabilities for State Government. Solutions and Capabilities for Cities and Municipalities. Solutions and Capabilities for Airports and Transportation.
All Belimo locations are operating with a high level of product availability. Thanks to the remarkable efforts of the company’s employees worldwide, they have been able to cope with this pandemic in such an excellent way as that their customers did not experience any increase in lead times or lack of availability of their products. At the same time, the company was maintaining safety and health of their employees as their top priority in all their facilities worldwide. Several authorities globally have confirmed that Belimo is an essential business, therefore, the company should feel obligated to try everything to ensuring continued supply to their customers. They thank each of their employees for their tireless commitment which enables the business continuity of their operations. ensure safe working environment All Belimo locations remain working with strict measures to ensure a safe working environment. If current conditions are to remain stable, Belimo does not expect to experience any general increase in product lead times or availability. If the circumstances around this situation warrant, measures will be adjusted, and a new communication will be made.
As the world works to contain the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, the team at Trane is adapting to this rapidly evolving situation, implementing safety measures, and taking care of each other, the partners and the customers. They have implemented steps in an effort to protect the Trane team, the customers and the people who work, play and heal in the facilities where they provide services and systems. Trane’s business is largely categorized as ‘critical’ by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They heat, cool, ventilate and service essential spaces like homes, hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes, supermarkets, emergency services, data centers, construction and much more. These functions are essential for the health and safety of the global community, especially in this time of national emergency. Remote service capabilities Trane’s team is working hard to support the infrastructure that people around the world rely upon. Trane is very much open and operating – and the people who build and service the products are working in the manufacturing plants and at the customer sites. Trane will not compromise their health and safety, and are following all guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and country health departments. Trane is doing all they can to make sure they continue their critical work, while safeguarding the health and safety of the employees and the customers. Business critical local visits to the customer sites by account managers or technicians are continuing, in line with the safety protocols. They are also leveraging virtual and remote service capabilities as needed. Health Self-Assessments Where possible, they have asked their team members to hold customer and partner meetings virtually As needed, Trane will temporarily close certain sales offices per state and city requirements, but continue to operate and serve customers remotely, as well as continue on-site work as permitted. To inhibit the spread of the virus, they have prohibited all travel to and from high-risk areas outlined by the CDC, and have restricted all other non-essential travel. Where possible, they have asked their team members to hold customer and partner meetings virtually. Any employee who can work from home is encouraged to do so. Trane requires that all employees not working from home perform daily health self-assessments before coming to work. Anyone who has traveled to a high-risk area, has had suspected contact with a person who is infected or is symptomatic is asked to stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to company or customer sites. Enhanced cleaning procedures Like many companies, Trane has implemented new visitor policies at all of the locations, prohibiting visits from people who have traveled to high-risk areas or those exhibiting acute respiratory symptoms. They are implementing additional safety measures at all facilities in line with guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and country health departments, including enhanced cleaning procedures and screenings, personal protective equipment usage and guidance, and communications on hand washing and other preventive measures. Ever-Changing circumstances The situation continues to evolve quickly, and they remain committed to supporting the people They have flexible work arrangements in place for employees who can work from home, country-specific benefits for employees on leave for quarantine or illness, U.S. access to back-up child and eldercare assistance, and a Helping Hand Fund, which assists employees around the world dealing with unexpected financial hardships. The situation continues to evolve quickly, and they remain committed to supporting the people, the customers and partners during this unprecedented time. Trane is prepared to lead their customers through the ever-changing circumstances as it relates to their facilities and building projects. The best way to stay in contact with Trane is through the local account manager, who can discuss the specific situation. In addition to new and existing projects or services, please reach out in any of the following categories as needed: How to operate facilities more efficiently with vacant spaces Available options for remote service and monitoring to avoid additional bodies in a building Answers to questions about air quality and ventilation solutions Temporary and rental solutions for new or expanded healthcare operations
Eurovent Middle East has opened up membership to the consultant community in a move to bring the industry in the region closer together and support technical exchange on a range of pressing issues. With his background in mechanical engineering, Dr. Iyad Al-Attar is both an Air Filtration consultant and an environmental enthusiast. He is currently a Visiting Academic Fellow in the School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom. Air Filtration for SARS-CoV-2 Dr. Al-Attar said: “SARS-CoV-2 has paid us a surprise visit and found us pledging allegiance to sketchy filter specifications that tolerate regenerating disposal filters, inappropriately selecting filters, entertaining conventional filter design and prompting single-stage filtration solutions for most applications.” He highlighted: “Prior to suggesting any sort of refinements, we ought to re-examine the math of the international filtration standards for the Middle East and particularly in the Arabian Peninsula to close the gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to implementing their recommendations.” For the best interest of the health of the public, it is essential to work together to establish a non-commercial approach" “Combating COVID-19 is an existential challenge we face today” Dr. Al-Attar explains. “The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of appropriate building ventilation and air filtration selection, an issue that has been notoriously overlooked for decades - and I am afraid we are now paying a hefty price for this negligence. It is of paramount importance for the community to realize that there are no low cost, short term and over-the-counter solutions as far as designed ventilation and filtration systems are concerned. The first corrective action toward enhancing air quality is making appropriate filter based on the physical and chemical characterization of the airborne contaminants in the air we breathe. Unfortunately, the spread of information that lacks precision and is possibly driven by commercial interests are overshadowing the key message which needs to be understood: Enhanced IAQ saves lives!” Improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Mr. Markus Lattner, Managing Director of Eurovent Middle East said: “Since our inception, we stated improved IAQ as one of our key objectives. Unfortunately, we now see how urgent this matter has become. We are positive that with the support and the expertise of Dr. Al-Attar, we will be able to gain more attention on the design, installation and operation of ventilation and air filtration systems. We are excited to welcome him on board with us, as we know a joint effort is required by everyone to overcome the current crisis and prepare to stave off future threats to our societies.” Dr. Al-Attar concludes by advising, “We need to be part of the solutions, not the symptoms. For the best interest of the health of the public, it is essential to work together to establish a non-commercial approach and neutral grounds to educate the international audience on how to enhance our air quality and consequently, our well-being. Eurovent Middle East provides the platform where we can exchange and create awareness on such important topics. I am looking forward to exchanging knowledge, experiences and calling on the industry and governments to join us in these discussions for the benefit of our societies and mankind. SARS-CoV-2 is a global game changer and we need to challenge the existing standards, maintenance practices and, most importantly, ourselves.”
Johnson Controls has introduced the Envirco IsoClean filtration system designed to easily and economically create a negative pressure isolation room/environment that meets OSHA and CDC TB guidelines as the world navigates COVID-19 pandemic. IsoClean can be used as a positive pressure clean air recirculating system in clinics, waiting rooms, hospital emergency rooms and other confined areas. The system can also be used as a partial or complete exhausting unit to construct a negative pressure isolation room space. economical solution The system can be easily rolled from one room to another and fits into areas with limited floor space" “The IsoClean is an easy and economical solution that is ideal for health care professionals looking to create a negative pressure, isolation patient room,” said Mark Mattingly, Vice President and General Manager, Air Filtration Products, Johnson Controls. “The system can be easily rolled from one room to another and fits into areas with limited floor space. The portability and practical applications this solution offers is optimal for facilities looking for an economical investment.” Low cost isolation room: Simply roll the IsoClean into a standard room, connect flexible ducting to the 6 in (152 mm) collar on the top of the unit for partial exhaust or to the optional 8 in. (204 mm) flanged collar for total exhaust and vent the purified air to the exterior through a window or wall. clean air recirculation Flexible applications: The versatile IsoClean can be used as a clean air recirculating unit, a negative pressure unit or as a split system to create both negative pressure and clean air recirculation by simultaneously exhausting some of the air out while recirculating the remainder back into the room. Hospital and other Applications Negative Pressure Rooms Emergency Rooms Waiting Rooms Sputum Induction Aerosol Pentamidine Treatment Intensive Care Units Bronchoscopy Rooms Renal Dialysis Rooms Clinics Nursing Centers Physician Offices Homeless Shelters Addiction Recovery Centers Correctional Facilities
Honeywell and Dimer LLC announced a partnership to bring an ultraviolet cleaning (UVC) system to airlines that, when properly applied, significantly reduces certain viruses and bacteria on airplane cabin surfaces. The Honeywell UV Cabin System can treat an aircraft cabin in less than 10 minutes for just a few dollars per flight for midsize to large airline fleets. "This offering is a big win for our airline customers, which are seeking affordable ways to clean their cabins effectively and quickly between flights," said Mike Madsen, Honeywell Aerospace President and CEO. "Honeywell is working on a range of solutions to help make passengers more comfortable about flying." hospital-grade technology Honeywell is accepting orders for the UV Cabin System now with the first shipments coming in July. Pricing will vary based on quantity, but for midsize to large airlines with hundreds or more aircraft, Honeywell's system could be applied to their aircraft for less than $10 per use. "Working with Honeywell puts this technology in the hands of a worldwide aerospace leader that can quickly deliver to airlines and other aircraft operators," said Elliot M. Kreitenberg, Co-Founder and President of Dimer LLC. "As the travel industry begins to recover, we know hospital-grade technology will ease passenger concerns, and that's what we're providing with this system." protection against COVID-19 Honeywell is currently in discussions with multiple airlines and service providers for the UV Cabin System The Honeywell UV Cabin System is roughly the size of an aircraft beverage cart and has UVC light arms that extend over the top of seats and sweep the cabin to treat aircraft surfaces. Properly applied, UVC lights deliver doses that medical studies find reduce various viruses and bacteria, including SARS CoV and MERS CoV. Results vary based on UV dosage and application, and no testing has been done specifically on protection against COVID-19. Dimer and Honeywell have entered into a worldwide, exclusive license as part of a strategic partnership for Honeywell to produce, advertise and sell portable UV technology devices for use within the aerospace industry. UV Cabin System Honeywell is currently in discussions with multiple airlines and service providers for the UV Cabin System. UVC has been used in hospitals, air and water filters, microbiology labs, and other applications. Most household lamps have between 500 and 700 nanometers (nm) of ultraviolet light. In comparison, UVC refers to ultraviolet light with wavelengths between 200 and 280 nm.
It is said that the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the single biggest driving forces behind the digitalization of industries ever seen. And although not new within HVAC infrastructures – especially within the food retail environment where it has been rolled out extensively – remote management and automation of HVAC systems is increasingly being used to support supermarket responses to COVID-19. From air filtration through to dynamic scheduling, digitalization of HVAC within the food retail sector is going through something of a renaissance. Pre-COVID Digitalization Software solutions that use Internet of Things (IoT) technology to analyze data from HVAC infrastructures, for example, are common in food retail stores. These solutions work by monitoring mission critical aspects of HVAC systems, from simple temperature data through to complex asset monitoring. This data can then either be fed back to the retailer for them to perform their own analysis or, using more advanced IoT technology, can be used to enact automated HVAC outcomes. Software solutions that use IoT technology to analyze data from HVAC infrastructures are common in food retail stores From preventing HVAC asset’s overworking – and therefore expending too much energy – through to detecting the first stages of a fault and alerting the relevant maintenance engineers, automation has been shown to deliver numerous benefits. These combine to serve the retailer’s primary purposes; enhancing the consumers in-store experience, improving the bottom line and decreasing energy usage to lower carbon footprint. But not only is the digitalization of HVAC helping food retailers drive down costs and energy, advances in areas such as air filtration and dynamic scheduling have meant that it is also being seen as a potential solution to COVID-19 related issues. Filtering Out the Virus Air filtration is a primary focus when looking for ways to keep internal spaces free from pathogens. While not exactly a new feature for HVAC systems, food retailers have been increasingly working towards implementing or improving their existing air filtration techniques in their stores. The solution to keeping air clean and fresh is actually quite straightforward and relies on the same technology that many stores already use to monitor CO2. Advances in areas such as air filtration and dynamic scheduling have meant that HVAC is being seen as a potential solution to COVID-19 By connecting CO2 monitors to a central controls panel (the technical way of describing the place where all of the sensor data is collected and, in some cases, analyzed), sensors are able to detect the CO2 levels instore, signal if they begin to drift past a pre-determined base level, and automatically alert the HVAC systems to provide more fresh air into the store. This is a simple process of optimization. Additional sensors detect when fresh air is either too humid, hot or cold to be filtered into the store and rectify this by automatically adjusting the HVAC. Essentially, monitoring CO2 and air quality levels makes sure the air in a store is constantly fresh and filtered to keep the chances of airborne transmission as low as possible without causing the HVAC systems to expend any more energy than is necessary. Research has shown that COVID-19 spreads through small respiratory droplets that are released into the air from an infected person when coughing, talking or even breathing. Within a store environment therefore, where surface contamination and proximity to other people are likely to increase the chances of transmitting the virus, optimized fresh air flow to dilute indoor air is desirable. By detecting higher levels of CO2 within the air which in turn increases the chances of pathogens floating around, food retailers can automate their HVAC systems to filtrate the air and significantly reduce chances of transmission. Dynamic HVAC Response Air filtration isn’t the only way that food retailers are combining digitalization and HVAC systems to help them navigate the ‘new normal’. With store opening times continually changing, fewer people inside a store at any one time and staff performing additional and stricter clean regimes after hours, the requirements for optimum store temperature have moved from static to dynamic. Before the pandemic, HVAC systems would have to keep an average non-24 hour store at the optimum temperature for between say, 7am and 11pm, and would have to work a little harder to deliver more air into the store during the lunch time rush and post-work peaks – a mostly predictable routine. Research has shown that COVID-19 spreads through small respiratory droplets that are released into the air from an infected person Now, however, with adjusted store schedules and social distancing regulations, the footfall and peak traffic times have changed dramatically. Through digitally enabled remote management of HVAC temperatures and schedules, new schedules could be deployed across the estate at the touch of a button. Real-time monitoring of in-store temperatures and the volume of people inside also enables HVAC systems to run more efficiently by stopping them from filtering in more outside air than is necessary in a shop that contains fewer customers than normal. IoT solutions are ensuring HVAC infrastructures are running efficiently, saving energy, helping a retailer’s bottom line and most importantly, ensuring the comfort and safety of customers and colleagues. However, as retailers look for solutions to the challenges posed by the post-COVID landscape, digitalized HVAC is breathing fresh air into the industry. From improved air filtration to dynamic schedule monitoring, digitalized HVAC systems are proving to be an important tool in a food retailer’s arsenal as they navigate the new normal.
The current Coronavirus pandemic and the corresponding socioeconomic crisis has dealt a brutal blow to public and residential facilities alike, as businesses and management bodies worldwide are challenged to constantly ensure that their spaces are safe and healthy for occupants. As the entire world has been forced to adapt to what’s been commonly referred to as “the new normal,” one broad-ranging area has come into critical focus as a priority with a heightened sense of fear and cognizance around virus transmission: indoor air quality (IAQ). Importance of Indoor Air Quality For HVAC professionals, the importance of indoor air quality and ventilation as it relates to building efficiency and occupant comfort is nothing new, but through the introduction of new technologies and research, the topic of occupancy health and wellness as it directly relates to HVAC systems is constantly evolving and providing fresh information. However, while every facility manager, business owner or landlord wants to create a healthy building, HVAC pros are often subject to a constant push-pull dynamic that must be managed when it comes to balancing costs and utility budgets with optimized performance. Recommending improvements that will make a building healthier but may carry an added costThis conflict between competing demands can be incredibly daunting and taxing for HVAC managers looking to justify their decisions to seek out or implement new solutions. Recommending improvements that will make a building healthier but may carry an added cost, which can be a major challenge during times when budgets may be tighter than ever.The topic of reopening businesses, office buildings, schools and public gathering places has stoked prolonged debate over protocol, timing, and appropriate standards for facility management. While every state and industry will have its own set of circumstances, from an indoor air quality perspective, there are three steps that can be taken to ensure your building is offering the healthiest and smartest environment possible: Know Your Air Understanding what is in the air is the most important first step towards optimizing your building. This is critical in determining how to customize the specific needs of your space when preparing to reopen. The most common misconception about building health is that a “healthy building” has to be a newly-created structure. In reality, a healthy building is a structure where the strengths and weaknesses of the indoor air quality have been assessed, and the proper measures have been taken. HVAC professionals should implore property owners to invest in an IAQ monitoring system that monitors multiple pollutantsThis ensures that any areas lacking have been addressed and optimized - age notwithstanding. This can only be achieved through constant intelligent monitoring and familiarization with what’s in your air. HVAC professionals should implore property owners and leadership to invest in an indoor air quality monitoring system that monitors multiple indoor air pollutants. Our Airthings For Business solution, for example, tracks CO2, humidity, temperature, airborne chemicals, radon, air pressure, and light and provides 24/7 access to data that tracks changes, dangerous levels or inefficiencies over time. Once an issue is identified, HVAC professionals can then implement solutions that are curated towards a specific problem. The best part? Taking action by investing in monitoring will actually create perpetual energy savings in the future. On average, spending $40 on improving air quality in a building results in a $6,500 productivity gain. Understanding what is in the air is the most important first step towards optimizing your building Healthy Humidity When developing a reopening strategy, perhaps no indoor air quality component is more important to monitor closely than humidity. The reason humidity is so critical is because studies have proven a direct, established link between the facilitation of seasonal respiratory virus transmission, particularly flu, and the level of humidity in the air. When humidity levels are too low, it means indoor air is dry, which allows airborne drops of water and flakes of skin that contain virions and bacteria to stay airborne longer and travel farther, and tend to be resilient enough to remain infectious. In regions heavily affected by Coronavirus, such as the US Sun Belt, people spend their entire summer days breathing in circulated cooled airThis threat is compounded with the fact that public facilities such as large office buildings that operate with central air conditioning tend to have exceedingly dry air, especially in regions heavily affected by Coronavirus, such as the US Sun Belt, where most people spend their entire summer days breathing in circulated cooled air. While the CDC recommends property managers maintain humidity levels in between 30-50%, other scientific bodies disagree and believe that 40-60% is the optimal target zone. Research from Yale, among many leading institutions, has proven that indoor humidity levels which fall below the range of 40 to 60% can dramatically increase the spread of airborne viruses, including COVID-19. In fact, Dr. Stephanie Taylor, an infection control consultant for Harvard Medical School and a member of the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force, has been leading a petition called 40 to 60%RH, urging the World Health Organization to establish concrete humidity standards within these parameters for public spaces. The evidence is clear that humidity levels are paramount when establishing a safe indoor environment. Ventilate In addition to focusing on humidity, ensuring the presence of proper ventilation will be a core element of any reopening strategy. When it comes to virus transmission, stale air is the enemy, and poor ventilation can also cause harmful toxins such as CO2, VOCs and radon to accumulate. The best way to manage a ventilation strategy is by monitoring and extracting data-based evidence, and deploying a tailored solution to address your issues. For airborne pollutants (also known as VOCs), monitoring their levels will give you data that indicate if you should increase ventilation, reduce the use of products that emit them or to more regularly replace air filters in your indoor fan systems. In an environment where we are in close proximity, such as the workplace, high concentrations of CO2 can build up if the air is not ventilated properly. While HVAC professionals obviously understand the importance of ventilation, operation costs clearly play a factor in strategy. Most ventilation systems run the entire day, regardless of building occupancy, which can quickly double the cost of energy, maintenance and wear on the ventilation system. It will also lead to spending much more energy on heating as the air is often delivered undercooled. Ways to potentially mitigate this would be to invest in a technology solution that offers smart monitoring of occupancy and overall air quality, or seek out alternative HVAC products such as a standalone heat recovery ventilator (HRV) instead of a one-way fan to save energy and maintain comfort. Conclusion In conclusion, between the pressures of reopening highly frequented buildings and ensuring an indoor environment that is optimized to prevent viral spread, the expertise and assistance of HVAC professionals has never been more valuable. By taking a proactive approach towards indoor air quality, achieving a balance between occupant health and operational bottom lines is well within reach.
Effective heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems have always been part of maintaining a healthy building environment, and with the impact of COVID-19 and the unique way the virus is spread, it has never been more imperative that HVAC plays a vital role in keeping occupants of buildings safe, especially as people begin to return to the office and other commercial environments. COVID-19 has three known contamination routes. First of all, there is person-to-person transmission, which could be indirect too, if the virus travels from someone to a surface they have touched, which is then touched by another person. Then there is airborne transmission. The British Council for Offices (BCO)’s Thoughts on Office Design and Operation After COVID 19 document talks of large droplets, greater than 10 micrometres, “expelled by sneezing and coughing and in still air, typically within about 2 metres of the infected person.” But Dr Linsey Marr, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, speaking to the New Scientist says that people emit thousands of times more smaller droplets than larger ones. She thinks that it is these ones that infect people with COVID-19. Then there’s the third contamination route: faecal to oral whereby particles from the toilet can enter people’s respiritory systems when using WCs. Counteracting COVID-19 transmission There are several methods to counteract these routes of transmission. The risk of the virus spreading from person-to-person can be lessened where there is a focus on smart technology. This begins upon arrival at a building, with the use of touchless entry systems, for instance harnessing facial recognition technology. Once inside, staff could then be directed to an area of the office that isn’t already occupied via digital signage or an app. And instead of manually pressing a button, information from the employee’s ID pass about which floor they work on can be read by a card reader, activating the elevator. As for transmissions via surfaces, scientists have emphasized copper’s antibacterial properties, with COVID-19 surviving just a few hours on copper, compared with a number of days for steel or plastic. William Keevil, a senior microbiologist at the University of Southampton, has recently suggested that the UK is behind other countries in using this material on communal areas like handrails and doorknobs. Copper-based nickel would perform better than chrome in certain parts of the office too. The risk of the virus spreading from person-to-person can be lessened where there is a focus on smart technology To dilute airborne contamination, the Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers (CIBSE) recommends running ventilation systems at a higher flow rate. “This may require changes to C02 set points for both mechanical ventilation and automated windows,” it states in its COVID-19 Ventilation Guidance. Airborne Particles and the need for ventilation Chinese and American academics looking at outbreaks in the Chinese province of Zhejiang found that airborne transmission of the virus may have taken place in 48.3% of people in a badly ventilated office. Essentially to stop the spread of COVID-19, ventilation needs to be increased and more fresh air needs to be brought in. The risk of contamination via recirculated air can be mitigated with a higher level of filtration such as F9. This is a very fine system that will catch nanoparticles of 70nm but does involve greater energy use to overcome the resistance. The alternative is to keep these systems on for much longer – typically two hours before people arrive and then two hours after they leave. CIBSE’s COVID-19 report also states that, “Recirculation of air within a single room, where this is complemented by an outdoor air supply, is acceptable.” Getting abundant fresh air in the system is key. This could be as simple as just opening the windows. The BCO’s report goes so far as to say, “Actively use operable windows and openings to boost ventilation to occupied spaces as much as possible, even if this is at the expense of thermal comfort.” Fan coils and Chilled beams Getting abundant fresh air in the system is key The BCO also recommends that fan coils, which recirculate air locally in the occupied space, “should be frequently and thoroughly cleaned and where condensation occurs, drain pans and traps should be maintained frequently to prevent growth of bacteria and mold.” It is also a recommendation that HepVo traps are installed on condensate systems that drain into waste pipework. As far as chilled beams are concerned, CIBSE says that active chilled beams can be operated as normal, while with passive chilled beams there should be a good supply of air. I would be interested to see some further research on the performance of underfloor and low level air distribution. The lower velocities and laminar air flow associated with these systems causes less air turbulence, particularly in the zone where air is breathed. This would seem to have an obvious advantage in reducing the risk of virus spread in an office environment. Mixed Mode Ventilation The ‘mixed mode’ of ventilation will become more commonplace. When it is not high summer, the cooling can be turned off so windows can be opened. This could even eventually replace the familiar sealed building model. This system can happen automatically with sensors, after all, fresh air is good for people: There are several recent examples of this being done successfully, other building such as London Wall Place, have been designed future proofed for ‘mixed mode’ use to be adopted if this is preferred by a tenant. Meanwhile, to combat faecal-oral transmission, bathroom extraction fans need to be kept on high and again perhaps running the systems for 24 hours a day. Toilets that automatically shut and touchless flushes can also help to stop the spread of the virus. The same goes for anti-bacterial coatings on bathroom doors. Some of clients are considering motorized doors that are effectively ‘touch free’. Post-COVID Ventilation Strategies Toilets that automatically shut and touchless flushes can also help to stop the spread of the virus There is definitely set to be more access to outside air moving forward and there is a strong sustainability argument to be made for this method. However, some of the changes to ventilation strategies being deployed for a post-COVID world will inevitably have some compromises for carbon emissions. If systems are run at a higher rate and for longer, if not continuously, throughout the day then that has implications for a larger carbon footprint, as the buildings become less energy efficient. However, in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s a price worth paying. As energy saving methods (thermal wheels and plate heat exchangers) also present a risk, CIBSE recommends that these are bypassed and not used in the current environment Of course, some of these solutions are temporary but other, smart office elements like touchless versions of door handles, room/desk booking systems (wayfinding) and reception sign-in procedures look set to be with us for the longer term. These all affect the M&E, as well as the architecture and design of buildings. We will overcome COVID-19 but we need to listen to the lessons that we are learning, and some will most certainly become permanent before the next virus that hits the human race comes along!
HVAC systems are the most common home repair, representing 19 percent of service incidents facing homeowners. More than half of homeowners (53%) have faced a home repair emergency of some kind in the past 12 months. Furthermore, about a third of homeowners have US$ 500 or less set aside to pay for emergency home repairs, with some 17 percent having no money at all set aside for emergency home repair work. 10th Edition of the Biannual State of the Home Survey These are among the results of the 10th Edition of the Biannual State of the Home Survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of HomeServe USA Corp., a provider of home repair solutions in the U.S. and Canada. The survey carried out covered 2,026 U.S. adults (of which 1,454 are US homeowners) was conducted during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. HomeServe’s real-time repair data shows that customers are continuing to require urgent repair help during the COVID-19 pandemic period. Greater strain on home infrastructure and HVAC systems More Americans are putting extra strain on their homes’ infrastructure and major systems More Americans are putting extra strain on their homes’ infrastructure and major systems. As parents are spending more time working from home, and the children are in home schools, the shortcomings of existing systems are becoming more obvious, especially as the summer temperatures rise. In the current uncertain times, comfort is more of a need than a luxury. Concerns about air quality in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is occurring at the height of the allergy season, are also driving new business for HVAC technicians. Technicians using personal protective gear at homes Service technicians are using proper social distancing protocols and personal protective gear (PPE) while performing maintenance and service tasks at consumers’ homes. Consumers want to know what companies are doing differently to protect their customers during the pandemic. At the very least, installers should keep contact to a minimum and meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local requirements to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Following social distancing protocols in repair works “We’re wearing gloves, washing our hands between calls, wearing masks, and we have sanitizers and soaps in our cars, making sure we are maintaining safety,” said Michael Concannon, Repair Technician for Bell Brothers, located in Sacramento, California, USA. There is also an opportunity for HVAC companies to provide expert advice on subjects that customers are asking about now, such as indoor air quality. In the midst of economic uncertainty, routine maintenance can provide greater peace of mind, as well as extend the life of equipment. Consumers to foot bill for home repair work According to the HomeServe survey, many homeowners do not know it is their responsibility to pay for home repairs According to the HomeServe survey, many homeowners, especially younger ones, do not understand that it is their responsibility to pay for home repairs. Many mistakenly believe repairs will be covered by a city/municipality, a water utility, or a homeowner’s insurance. “The findings of the latest survey clearly show that homeowners, especially younger ones, are unaware of their responsibility when it comes to common home repairs,” said John Kitzie, HomeServe USA Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Smart financial planning tools John adds, “HomeServe seeks to educate homeowners and to provide them with smart financial planning tools so they are prepared when an inevitable home emergency strikes.” HomeServe USA serves more than 4.4 million customers across the U.S. and Canada under the HomeServe, Home Emergency Insurance Solutions, Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA) and Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC).
A new cloud-based solution enables HVAC professionals to access VRF systems remotely to diagnose service issues and lessen the time and costs of providing service. CoolAutomation’s Remote HVAC Service Solution enables HVAC service providers to remotely troubleshoot issues by analyzing real-time and historic data trends and analysis. They receive automatic error and anomaly notifications in their office or on their mobile phones. “The remote service solution provides the tools that HVAC service providers need to offer remote services to their existing clients while attracting new customers who understand the value of remote service for their business,” says Roy Muchtar, VP of Products at CoolAutomation. variable refrigerant flow On site, a CoolAutomation CloudBox connects directly to the VRF and links to the cloud via routers and the Internet. The box shares data on the operation of the VRF to the cloud, where a subscription service enables it to be analyzed to determine any problems. The service solution can connect to any major VRF (variable refrigerant flow) system, including Mitsubishi, Daikin, LG, Samsung, et. al.; and can connect to VRF units from multiple manufacturers in case a customer has installed more than one. The cloud solution begins monitoring information from the VRF at the time of installation If a service provider is migrating from one brand to another, the cloud solution can operate with both if there is a period of overlapping systems. The experience is the same regardless of the VRF brand. The cloud solution begins monitoring information from the VRF at the time of installation, providing a benchmark of how the equipment operates when it is first commissioned. Over time, the technology collects and stores additional data on how it continues to function. remote service solution The service provider receives an email or an alert on their smart phone if something is wrong or if a component is operating outside a defined parameter. The remote service solution also shortens the cycle of service and support. In case service is needed, the provider can diagnose the problem remotely before he or she visits the site; in some cases, remote service can solve the problem. If any anomaly surfaces, the service provider has access to the entire history of system operation to show them what has changed and when. If a site visit is needed, the technician can arrive on site knowing what the problem is and with a plan (and required materials) to solve it quickly. There is no need, for example, for one site visit to diagnose a problem and then a second visit to fix it. cloud-based approach Knowing ahead the complexity of a problem helps service providers decide which technicians (e.g., what level of expertise) to send to the site. The cloud-based approach can also maximize productivity of a service company’s most experienced technicians. A knowledgeable technician can address multiple customer issues in less time, diagnose the problems remotely, and then dispatch less experienced technicians as necessary, knowing exactly what they need to do. The model of sending a technician on site to address every service call, from small to big, will be challenging" In short, the remote service solution is another tool in a provider’s toolbox, helping them improve service, lower costs, and benefit their own bottom lines. There are also benefits for any companies seeking to provide “HVAC as a service” – less cost and more dollars go to the bottom line from any monthly subscription payments. remote service capabilities During the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of remote service have become even more obvious as a way to minimize customer visits. In fact, in general, end customers increasingly are coming to expect remote service capabilities from providers. “HVAC technical service organizations and HVAC contractors will have to make some transition in the way technical service is being provided because of the pandemic,” says Muchtar. “The model of sending a technician on site to address every service call, from small to big, will be challenging in an environment of ever-changing travel restrictions.” The remote service solution also avoids having to set up an appointment to access a system if the building is vacant (because of coronavirus). Also, any anomalies in system operation are less likely to be noticed if the building is empty, so remote monitoring is even more valuable. From the end customer’s perspective, it is likely a service provider can solve any situation before the customer is even aware there is a problem. The time needed for problem resolution is shorter, and lifespan of the system is longer because small problems are addressed before they cause larger problems. In addition to service issues, the information stored in the cloud provides voluminous data that can be analyzed to yield insights on how the system has been used, the performance of various elements, etc. interpreting larger trends The CloudBox, also used for home automation, is already in use in more than 90 countries A rules engine can aid with analyzing multiple factors to interpret larger trends. Rules can be customized to provide alerts based on specific parameters and/or anomalies, and customers can share a library of rules generated by other users. Alerts may include operational analytics (e.g., if the room temperature goes below 60 for 30 minutes), manufacturer alerts (if something is wrong with the VRF), and maintenance alerts (e.g., filter needs to be changed). The new technology, launched in late June, has been beta testing worldwide for several months, including in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and Germany. The CloudBox, also used for home automation, is already in use in more than 90 countries. targeting facility managers Use of the technology will soon be expanded beyond VRFs to connect with chillers and other more traditional HVAC systems; however, additional integration is needed to operate with various brands of chillers, each with a different interface. In addition to the remote service solution, CoolAutomation also offers a control application (for end users). Later this year, the company will be introducing an application targeting facility managers that addresses issues such as scheduling and energy consumption
Newer buildings tend to be designed to be ‘green’, but what about older existing buildings, which still represent the largest share of environmental impact? There is more work to be done in the retrofit sector; and improving environmental performance of older buildings often involves ‘deep retrofits’ that are costly and impact multiple factors inside a building. In the COVID-19 era, there is also growing concern about needs such as circulating outside air, increasing humidity, and improving filtration systems even as older buildings seek to become greener. The consistent theme is a need to work toward better-designed, more energy efficient and healthier buildings. Healthier Buildings for a Greener Future If you layer infrastructure issues with the new health challenges, it raises the issue to a higher level" “If you layer infrastructure issues with the new health challenges, it raises the issue to a higher level,” said Tony Cupido, Research Chair, Sustainability at Mohawk College, adding “You will see a greater need to provide health and wellness as we move forward.” Cupido said he was among the panelists at a ‘Healthier Buildings for a Greener Future’ Virtual Summit sponsored by Armstrong Fluid Technology. The discussion centered around the various aspects of “deep retrofits,” how to pay for such improvements and how to measure success. Balancing health features with energy-efficiency Achieving healthy and green buildings might involve working at cross purposes. “When we think about healthy buildings, we are seeing recommendations that tend to increase the energy needs of the buildings,” said Marta Schantz, Senior Vice President, Greenprint Center for Building Performance, Urban Land Institute, adding “For example, a better filtration system might require a more powerful motor to offset the added drag.” “In order to be both healthy and energy efficient, there are creative strategies,” said Schantz, adding “We should be thoughtful about how sensors and other technologies can address the challenge of balancing healthy features with energy-efficient features.” Deep retrofits “Deep retrofits are more complex from an engineering standpoint, especially when compared to other green issues such as LED lighting. Paving the way for more deep retrofits can include reining in that complexity by creating prefabricated or ‘canned’ solutions that are easier to implement,” said Peter Thomsen, Director/Global – Building System Solutions, Armstrong Fluid Technology. An obstacle to deep retrofits is lack of information about what technologies are available. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” said Schantz. The second obstacle is financing. One approach is to ‘bundle’ multiple projects to improve building performance, such as combining a fast-payback project (e.g., lighting) with a longer- (and larger-) payback project such as an air handling system. Another approach is to create pay-as-you-go models and/or ‘energy efficiency as a service’ plans that help to make the expenditures and budgeting more manageable. A step-by-step approach can achieve energy savings that will pay for each successive step. Efficiency of Building management systems Occupants of buildings today have a better understanding and are more informed through better technology" New metering, intelligence and transparency capabilities of building management systems can yield metrics and measurable results that can drive return-on-investment (ROI) considerations. Metrics also drive useful comparisons with other buildings in the same peer group, thus inspiring best practices to achieve better results compared to buildings of the same size and type. “Occupants of buildings today have a better understanding and are more informed through better technology,” said Cupido, adding “It will become even better over time as AI (artificial intelligence) looks at the pieces and fixes it themselves.” Widening scope of AI integration Better understanding equates to more buy-in by building occupants. “They are not only becoming more informed, but are more likely to buy into the technology,” said Schantz, adding “The long-term success depends on it. Everyone needs to be bought into the technologies to ensure long-term success, both on the health and wellness side, and the energy efficiency side.” A holistic approach is needed when planning deep retrofits, and care should be taken to ‘right-size’ the equipment by taking into account design changes that can lower system requirements. Advent of new building systems Designers should resist the temptation to ‘bulk up’ systems to exceed minimum requirements. For example, when specifying a rooftop unit, engineers should factor in any efficiency gains they have achieved by using tighter windows, LED lighting or other factors. Building owners face a learning curve in relation to new systems" “The idea is that you don’t replace it directly, but right-size it to the new requirements,” said Schantz, adding “Building owners face a learning curve in relation to new systems, and new building systems are “almost like a computer. It’s no longer a case of just turning building systems on and off. There is a risk that the building operations team does not know how to run the equipment.” Avoiding data overload Schantz further said, “Technology will not run as intended if it is not operated properly. It loses some of its value. The building operations staff needs to stay up to date and know how to operate the equipment. Peter Thomsen concludes, “One pitfall is to overwhelm building operators with too much data. “Data overload is too much and, as leaders, we need to avoid that.”
Mercyhealth, a healthcare provider with multiple hospitals in Illinois and Wisconsin, announced it will deploy Molekule's air purification technology, including its newly released commercial product, Air Pro RX, intended for healthcare facilities, to enhance protection for its patients and frontline medical personnel. The devices will be deployed throughout Mercyhealth's five hospitals in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Molekule's PECO air purification technology has been demonstrated to capture and destroy airborne viruses, including testing of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) proxy viruses. Waiting areas and emergency rooms air purification Mercyhealth will be prioritizing the use of Molekule's air purification devices to inpatient rooms for patients who are symptomatic or who have tested positive for COVID-19, providing even greater protection for patients and medical professionals who face potential increased exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The devices will also be integrated across several of Mercyhealth's waiting areas and emergency rooms. FDA issued guidance for the use of particular air purifiers against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) during COVID-19 Mercyhealth will be utilizing Molekule Air devices and Molekule's newly released medical-grade unit, Air Pro RX, which is intended for critical care environments including their Intensive Care Units and operating rooms. Air Pro RX has been granted 510(k) Class II Medical Device clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It uses the same PECO technology as Molekule's suite of consumer products, is portable, does not require any HVAC installation, and begins cleaning the air immediately. Quality air for employees and visitors "At Mercyhealth, our goal is to bring the latest standards of medicine and the best quality of care to the millions of patients we treat annually, as well as provide protection for our employees and visitors," said Ruth Yarbrough, Mercyhealth Vice President of Quality. "After a pilot study and further evaluation by our medical and quality teams, we are excited to be among the first hospitals in the United States to utilize Molekule's PECO technology in our facilities." This announcement comes shortly after the FDA issued guidance for the use of particular air purifiers against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) during the current COVID-19 emergency. Molekule's devices satisfy the performance criteria outlined by the FDA in the guidance, and thus can be sold during the current health emergency as medical devices intended to destroy the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Air purification technology Patients are in respiratory distress and healthcare workers are at a high risk of airborne exposure" Because SARS-CoV-2 can be aerosolized and transmitted through droplets in the air, having proper air purification technology that may be effective in the destruction of the virus, in addition to personal protective equipment (PPE) or other similar medical countermeasures (MCM), adds an important layer of protection to high-risk areas. In addition to the recent guidance provided by the FDA, Molekule's Air Pro RX device has specifically been granted 510(k) Class II Medical Device clearance by the FDA. "As a company rooted in scientific innovation, we are constantly looking at ways to bring the power of PECO technology to those who need it most," said Jaya Rao, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Molekule. "Today, we are facing an invisible threat in the air and it's more important than ever to get our PECO technology into medical facilities where patients are in respiratory distress and healthcare workers are at a high risk of airborne exposure. The work we are doing with Mercyhealth is a defining moment for getting new air purification technology deployed in the battle against this virus." SARS-CoV-2-like virus effectiveness Molekule's most recent third-party testing conducted with the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, Intertek, on virus Phi X 174, a proxy virus to SARS-CoV-2, demonstrated the ability of Molekule's PECO technology to destroy the virus and reduce the virus concentration by 98.7% in two hours. Additional testing recently conducted at Aerosol Research and Engineering Labs (ARE) using the virus MS2 Bacteriophage, a proxy virus for SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and measles, due to also being an RNA type virus and particle size, demonstrated the ability of Molekule's technology to reduce up to 99.99% of the virus concentration in just 2 hours. In December of 2018, Mercyhealth and Molekule concluded a pilot clinical trial in Mercyhealth's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), which was recently published in The Cureus Journal of Medical Science. The clinical trial pilot evaluated the effects of Molekule's patented air purification technology, PECO, for hospitalized children who were admitted with respiratory distress. Mercyhealth found during this pilot trial, that the use of PECO technology was associated with a reduction in the overall length of hospital stays, as well as reduced rates of intubation, nebulizer usage and non-invasive ventilation.
Alfa Laval, a globally renowned company in the field of heat transfer, centrifugal separation and fluid handling, has announced winning an order to supply compact heat exchangers to a refinery and petrochemical plant in China. The order has a value of approximately SEK 95 million. It is booked in the welded heat exchangers unit and the gasketed plate heat exchangers unit of the Energy Division, with delivery scheduled for 2021. Alfa Laval compact heat exchangers The order comprises Alfa Laval compact heat exchangers which will be used to recover and reuse heat in the refinery The order comprises Alfa Laval compact heat exchangers which will be used to recover and reuse heat in the refinery and petrochemical complex, which produces both transportation fuels and petrochemical products. “With China slowly recovering after the pandemic, I am very pleased to announce this order for our energy efficient heat exchangers from one of our refinery and petrochemical customers.” said Susanne Pahlen Aklundh, President of the Energy Division at Alfa Laval. She adds, “Our products and solutions play a vital role in maintaining a functioning society by providing fundamental basics such as energy supply.” Safety protocol In China, the Alfa Laval offices and sites were closed one extra week after the Chinese New Year and were then re-opened with a clear safety protocol to ensure the health and safety of the employees, as well as to maintain the continuity of the business. Jan Debruyn, President of North East Asia & Alfa Laval China commented, “It is very encouraging that we during these challenging times could work together with our customer to secure the order. By using digital communication channels, we were able to move our business forward.” HVAC products in critical infrastructure Alfa Laval’s equipment and solutions often play an integral role in their customers’ processes, and are part of critical infrastructure in areas such as food and pharmaceutical production, sanitation, HVAC, electricity generation, etc.
Round table discussion
Welcome to our Expert Panel Roundtable, a new feature of HVACInformed.com. We will be asking timely questions about the HVAC market and seeking out experts in the field to provide responses. Our goal is to promote a useful exchange of information on a variety of topics and to create a forum for discussion of important issues facing the industry. Launching this new feature in the middle of a global pandemic made choosing our first question quite easy. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What has been the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the HVAC market?