Following the events of the past year, interest has been piqued among facility managers in the efficacy of UV light disinfection for HVAC systems and upper air cleaning. Even towards the start of the pandemic, facility managers across the U.S. had begun to turn towards UV-C lighting as a means of strengthening their indoor air quality (IAQ) strategies for occupant safety.
These methods have received even more attention following backing from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Both organizations have recommended that germicidal UV-C can “reduce the risk of dissemination of infectious aerosols in buildings and transportation environments.”
With the ability to deactivate and prevent bacterial or viral pathogens from infecting and reproducing, UV-C lighting has already proven a powerful tool in the surface and airborne disinfection of HVAC units. It has also proven to be an effective supplement to IAQ strategies, such as increasing room air exchange rates.
Early Adopters Highlight Their Successes
In speaking with facilitiesnet, Tai Davis, Director of Facilities Operations at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, details his experience with installing UV fixtures to aid infection control measures in the student infirmary. Fayetteville State installed five 225 fixtures to cover observation rooms, one of which was testing students for COVID, and a waiting room.
“It was something new, something we’d never seen before,” Davis says. “We were just trying to identify ways to protect not only the students, but the staff who had to come back in and work. We were looking at all types of options and things we could implement to ensure the safety and indoor air quality of our teams.”
“Our nurses and students there, they loved them. It gave them a sense of a safer environment, because they were testing for COVID in those spaces.”
Josh Hartsell, a chief engineer for Crescent Real Estate Management, turned to two ASHRAE-validated systems that were installed into the air ducts of two of their managed office buildings, with the goal being to increase indoor air quality and reduce maintenance costs.
The first system was devoted to coil cleaning to maintain the heat exchange efficiency system, and the other was geared toward infection control. Both could be run separately to maximize bulb life, and concurrently to double the efficacy in the event of there being a sick individual in the buildings.
Since installing, Hartsell has stated his company has saved about $8,000 on maintenance costs, with most of the savings coming from the less frequent need to clean coils.