Design Trends and the Impact on Ventilation Systems
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Shifting trends are an ongoing factor in the design and engineering of commercial HVAC systems. And few trends have had as great an impact as the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly brought the importance of indoor air quality to the forefront, so how will it affect design trends for current and future projects and ventilation systems?
The No. 1 priority for enhancing indoor air quality for existing buildings or future projects is proper ventilation.
How Is the Pandemic Changing HVAC Design?
Most commercial settings are looking to increase ventilation and modify their existing equipment accordingly. For example, can the existing equipment handle increased filtration and extra airflow? If additional airflow is added, then incorporating energy recovery systems is recommended.
In schools, the trends include incorporating more controls and starting the ventilation process a few hours before teachers and students come into the building. Systemair's Changeair Classroom Vertical Unit Ventilators provide an ideal solution for this application because it offers a better air exchange rate—each unit is sized for the room and is dialed-in for the ideal air exchanges per hour. A central system, in contrast, continuously circulates air to and from the classrooms, with no distinction or control from room to room.
The second priority for enhancing IAQ is making sure your HVAC units have the proper filter and follow the recommended filter maintenance schedule. Changing your filter regularly keeps excessive dirt and debris from building up in your HVAC unit and polluting the indoor air. MERV-13 is the minimum ASHRAE recommends due to its capacity for capturing smaller particles. You can also replace the filters on your HVAC units to incorporate the new virucidal air filter, developed by Deltrain, a leading Belgian filter manufacturer.
The DELTRI+ virucidal filters are UL and Eurovent Certified and contain advanced plasma technology capable of neutralizing or destroying 99% of all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, as tested by the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology and an independent laboratory.
Building owners can quickly improve existing units before considering more extensive upgrades to their ventilation systems. Compared with other methods utilized for virus prevention, the DELTRI+ filters offer a more straightforward solution that is easy to apply and manage. Furthermore, for building owners and facility managers, the filters enable immediate additional safety when used.
IAQ Considerations for Offices
Evaluating ventilation when a commercial space changes ownership is essential for providing exceptional IAQ. When a commercial space evolves into something else, performing an evaluation will help ensure ventilation practices are most suited to how it will now be used. For example, an office floor used for data servers has different ventilation needs than an office floor full of employees.
The traditional approach of office spaces was to recirculate the air, but since ventilation is top of mind, it’s more important than ever to consider what the people in the office will be doing. Are they sitting still or actively moving? Are they on the phone constantly (such as a call center)? Is there a hybrid work-from-home setup that decreases the number of people on a day-to-day basis? Do they work with chemicals?
Open office concepts allow for the best circulation of air. Still, engineers need to consider how the ventilation is set up and where the returns are to ensure that optimal IAQ is achieved.
According to Consulting Specifying Engineer, focus on employee well-being has buildings investing in upgraded air filtration, enhanced ventilation, secondary air purification, air quality monitoring systems and other measures to help make employees feel safe and comfortable returning to the office. Further, buildings are improving amenities and adding rewards that encourage employees to work from the office rather than from home.
Geniox can help increase air exchange rates by allowing designers to customize ventilation needs by level and even by section of each floor. They are versatile and offer configurable options for heat and energy recovery, cooling, filtration, mixing, and other elements that help meet the needs of offices.
Other Factors to Consider
Regardless of shifting design trends, systems must be properly maintained in order to function as designed. All Systemair products are designed for easy servicing and cleaning.
Geniox air handling units, for example, have a service panel that makes the internal components readily accessible. Changeair units are compartmentalized, which makes access to a specific element for maintenance easier.
Make sure to consult with the experts, manufacturers, and HVAC engineers to see how to incorporate current trends and systems in your space. They can help determine your needs based on building size, function, occupancy and much more. To get started, connect with Systemair at firstname.lastname@example.org.