While the headlines are full of strategies and products for providing a healthy workplace, a multi-disciplinary approach will help you avoid costly spending or damage to your building equipment. Invest intelligently by leveraging the knowledge of industrial hygienists and building engineers. AEI’s team is here to help you navigate the options.
Air Quality, Ventilation, and Thermal Health
Many experts are recommending increased ventilation, and ventilation system adjustments may help. However, adjustments may result in increased energy costs, and inappropriate filter application or HVAC adjustments may result in expensive damage to the system and other negative building effects.
- Increase the ventilation rate to 100% of the system’s capacity.
- Maintain relative humidity between 40-60%.
- Verify ventilation performance with real-time monitoring of CO2.
- Run the air-handling system during all hours the building is occupied and at least two hours before and after daily occupancy, preferably disabling demand control ventilation as indoor and outdoor conditions permit.
- Select the right filter for the building location. Consider maximizing filter performance to the upper limit the HVAC system can handle. (Consult with a building engineer or hygienist with ventilation experience before changing filters.)
- Consider a UV-based filtration system to minimize biologicals within the airstream.
- Consider high-flow portable air scrubbers equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in individual rooms and offices.
In the case of buildings that have been vacant for some time, assessments prior to re-occupancy may be advised. In the case of buildings that are expected to remain vacant, development and implementation of best practices for HVAC operation should be employed.
Moisture Intrusion and/or Mold Growth
For buildings that have been vacant, and especially for those where HVAC operation was paused, buildings should be inspected for evidence of moisture build-up or intrusion such as visible mold or mildew, stained ceiling tiles, or odors prior to re-occupancy. In the event these signs of moisture intrusion are noted, indoor air sampling or other types of assessments may be warranted. For buildings that are expected to remain vacant, implementation of best practices for HVAC operation and roof maintenance to prevent mold growth are advised.
Water Quality – Legionnaire’s Disease
Prior to re-occupancy, water systems including pipes, ice machines, soda machines, drinking fountains, and decorative fountains should be assessed due to the potential for legionnaire’s disease. For buildings that are likely to remain vacant, implementation of long-term management practices for the building water systems are advised.
Development of decontamination/disinfecting protocols are recommended in order to obtain transparent remediation contractor pricing and performance. Cleaning contractor acquisitions and pricing, bid administration services, and remediation oversight services are recommended to ensure adherence to protocols and manufacturers’ recommendations for the use of cleaning and disinfection products.
Asset-Specific Protocol Development
What may be appropriate in medical or hospitality may not be appropriate in a retail, multi-family, industrial or other setting. Research and validation of the variety of options such as UV treatment, misting, microbial resistant surfaces, or modifications of traditional cleaning practices should be evaluated for the specific property occupancy.
Managing healthy buildings requires a multi-disciplinary approach. The integrity of the building envelope, the effectiveness of the building operating systems, and the implementation of updated cleaning protocols all play their part in supporting a healthy environment. Our team of experts is happy to share best practices in any or all of these areas with you, our valued clients.
Our engineers can work with your building managers to update their protocols, verify implementation, and conduct verification assessments, if needed. We can also conduct indoor air assessment and sampling. Please contact your AEI representative today in order to schedule a complimentary call with our multidisciplinary team.