Before vaccinations were the norm, gathering inside was synonymous with the spread of COVID-19. Indoor air quality, then, inevitably emerged as a way to measure a public building’s safety, and it’s a benchmark that isn’t disappearing—all the more reason to understand how technology can help boost a sense of confidence in students and staff returning to schools.
Most importantly, decision makers should have a grasp of zone measures, advises Tyler Smith, general manager for specialty products at Johnson Controls. These include air scrubbers, which can be moved from space to space and help augment the clean air delivery capabilities of a mechanical system.
The Benefits of Automated Systems
Automation systems equipped with automatic notifications that can track clean air delivery rates are especially useful, and tied together with HVAC and meeting room lighting, it can also drive costs down. For example, solutions that monitor how many people are in a building at a given time can signal a money-saving automatic shut-off of lights.
These systems can also impact CO2 levels. According to Saundra Merollo, senior sales engineer at Sharp Electronics, outdoor CO2 levels average 300-400 parts per million, but a poorly ventilated meeting space may contain 1,000 or even up to 5,000 parts per million.
Unfortunately, the majority of HVAC and air quality systems are typically found in K12 settings. “Budgets may have been constrained so much over the years that they may have not been able to invest like a hospital or even some universities have been able to,” Smith explains.
That’s why it’s imperative to find solutions that aren’t specific to one type of mechanical system. A school system may have an air handler that’s 50 years old, but any further tweaks to it will be impossible.
“Focusing on things like portable air scrubbers or UV HEPA lighting troffers,” explains Smith, “is so critical to a K-12 school system because that’s irrespective of the age of the mechanical system.”
A version of this article was originally published by Campus Safety.