Can ventilation help improve building safety?

Service, maintenance and regular filter cleaning of the ventilation system are the simplest ways to maintain building health and for designers these applications are key considerations. During, and even after, the current coronavirus pandemic, the ventilation sector can help make buildings healthier to aid in the fight against many similar viruses, or pathogens. As a virus, there is still much to learn about Covid-19 and unfortunately a lot of information is raising anxiety levels for the public as businesses transition again to full operations.

Ventilation is seen as playing a potential role to help with overall well being in buildings at a time when millions are being asked to self-isolate in their homes, alongside following advice on social distancing and the importance of regular and thorough handwashing when leaving and arriving at a property.Even without the current government recommendations for as many citizens to stay home as possible – except for a single form of daily exercise, or to get essential food and medicines – the public already spends an estimated 80 to 90% of their time indoors.

A building’s indoor air quality (IAQ) will therefore clearly have a significant effect on their health and wellbeing. There are ways that the HVAC industry can help building owners improve the health of their buildings, which in turn will improve the health of their employees and increase productivity. Measures such as improving filtration, installing demand control ventilation, maintaining the system and increasing ventilation rates in lone with system design can improve the health of a building. This is seen as an important focus particularly amidst public concern about Covid-19, and similar occurrences in future.

The simplest steps to take to improve existing ventilation are to service and maintain the mechanical ventilation system, including checking the filters. Some ventilation systems, such as Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) and Demand Energy Recovery Ventilation (D-ERV), not only extract harmful pollutants, but also direct the air coming into the building through filters, taking out harmful airborne bacteria and dangerous contaminants.It should be considered important that industry opts to use higher grade filters and ensure they are maintained. Dirty filters will affect the efficiency of the ventilation system which reduces its effectiveness, and filters should be checked regularly to see if they need cleaning or replacing.

Source: David Cook, technical product manager at Vent-Axia