COVID-19 has changed the way the world looks at buildings. When talking specifically, that often translates to achieving better indoor air quality (IAQ). However the demand for better indoor air quality shouldn’t be just about responding to COVID-19. There are plenty of studies linking healthier indoor air to better wellbeing and performance, and the healthy building experts over at Honeywell have come forward with some recommendations on how to improve indoor air quality throughout high traffic facilities so administrators and facility managers can take immediate action.
1 Install Sensors to Monitor Elements Impacting IAQ
There are a variety of pollutants that can be found within buildings, but beyond that, environmental conditions like temperature and humidity can also greatly impact IAQ. For instance, warm, humid environments can contribute to the propagation of viruses and bacteria.
“We’re seeing people focus on just one factor – CO2 – as the proxy measurement for indoor air quality,” said Sharma. “While CO2 is important, school facility managers should be actively monitoring a range of parameters, such as particulate matter, VOCs, temperature, humidity, and air pressure, to name a few, and take appropriate automated actions related to filtration, ventilation and pressurization to create healthier indoor air.”
And IAQ sensors can help achieve just that, with many sensors on the market targeting a swathe of the aforementioned conditions. Some are even capable of communicating with pre-established systems to automate certain routines based on set parameters.
2 Place Portable HEPA Purifiers in High Traffic Areas to Pull Contaminated Air Away From Occupants
While many air purifiers on the market use a variety of methods to “clean” the air, those using high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are the de facto best option for cleaning indoor air. These products can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, and the portable options offer a great, cost-effective solution for larger facilities as they don’t require massive overhauls of HVAC systems.
According to Honeywell’s own research in hotel models, 97% of small particles were captured by the purifiers, providing a significant improvement to indoor air quality.
3 Maximize Ventilation to Bring in as Much Outside Air as Possible
Finding better means of ventilation can also mean a big difference. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) even found that the incidence rate of COVID-19 was 39% lower in schools that used open windows and fans in combination with air filtration methods.
Make no mistake, however, simply opening a window should not be considered a be-all-end-all effective means of ventilation. The air must flow. Proper pressurization and mechanical circulation through fans or HVAC systems should work together to maximize air flow.
Honeywell suggests having building managers extend operating times to just before the staff arrives and just after everyone leaves to purge stale air. However, if energy use remains a concern, spaces can be augmented with filtration solutions like mobile HEPA Air Purifiers to reduce the dependence on ventilation for dilution.
4 Track Room Occupancy to Smartly Adjust IAQ Parameters
Schools especially have unique cases in dealing with IAQ as occupancy levels in classes, common areas and hallways shift hourly. As Honeywell advises, video analytics and sensors, alongside other potential monitoring solutions, can help schools and other buildings track and manage high need areas as populations fluctuate. Facility managers can also use this measure to monitor social distancing and face covering compliance.
A solution like Honeywell Sine can help manage varying occupancy levels; pre-screen students, staff and visitors with health questionnaires before arrival; and track the flow of people throughout the space when integrated with access management platforms.