HVAC Services to Enhance
Indoor Air Quality
Many building managers tend to overlook the importance of air quality inside their buildings, often because they can’t readily see the contaminants the air contains. This is problematic because studies have shown that poor-quality indoor air has a major impact on people, such as:
- Respiratory problems: Poor indoor air quality can exacerbate symptoms of asthma and other respiratory conditions; it can also increase the risk of developing these conditions and contracting viruses such as COVID-19.
- Allergic reactions: Exposure to allergens such as dust mites and mold can cause allergic reactions such as sneezing, itching, and watery eyes.
- Headaches and fatigue: Poor indoor air quality can cause headaches and fatigue, which can result from exposure to pollutants such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter.
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation: Poor indoor air quality can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, which can be caused by exposure to pollutants such as particulate matter, VOCs, and formaldehyde.
- Increased risk of heart disease and cancer: Long-term exposure to poor indoor air quality has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
HVAC services for high-performance buildings
At Millennium Buildings, enhancing indoor air quality is central to what we do. We are focused on creating high-performance buildings—structures that are designed, constructed, and operated to use less energy, water, and other resources, generate less waste, and have a smaller environmental footprint compared to typical buildings. They are also designed to be comfortable, healthy, and productive spaces for the people who use them. High-performance buildings often include features such as energy-efficient lighting, renewable energy sources, green roofs or walls—and leading-edge HVAC systems.
Today we’re going to look at Millennium’s HVAC services for high-performance buildings that offer superior indoor air quality. In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc around the globe, Millennium was commissioned to design high-density common rooms in hotels and apartment buildings that featured recirculating HEPA filter systems to control the spread of the coronavirus. Since the completion of these projects, managers of the buildings with high-density common rooms with HVAC systems that we designed have reported that they—and users of the rooms—greatly appreciate the enhanced air quality. Our successes with high-density common rooms has given rise to numerous new design commissions for retrofitting the air systems of existing nursing homes, retirement homes and hotels with the goal of enhancing indoor air quality.
How to improve indoor air quality
Incorporating dedicated recirculating HEPA filter units into HVAC systems is a key Millennium Engineering strategy for improving indoor air quality. Dedicated recirculating HEPA filter units are standalone air purification systems that use HEPA filters to remove particles from the air. They are typically used in high-density common rooms such as meeting rooms, conference rooms, and classrooms, to recirculate room air multiple times per hour, passing it through the HEPA filter to remove particles, and then returning the cleaned air back into the room.
Dedicated recirculating HEPA filter units have several advantages over traditional HVAC systems:
- Can be placed in a specific location to target a specific area, such as a conference room or laboratory where air quality is critical.
- Can run continuously and independently of the HVAC system, which ensures that the air quality is always maintained, even when the HVAC system is not running.
- Can be equipped with multiple stages of filtration to remove a wide range of pollutants and odors.
- Can be equipped with UV-C lights that can kill bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms, providing an extra layer of protection.
How to monitor indoor air quality
Air quality monitoring is essential in providing a healthy, safe building environment—and to heading off the negative consequences associated with indoor air pollutants. Dedicated recirculating HEPA filter units can be equipped with sensors to monitor air quality and adjust the airflow accordingly. These sensors can detect pollutants and then adjust the unit’s fan speed or filter settings to improve air quality.
It’s important to note that the dedicated recirculating HEPA filter units do not replace the need for a good ventilation strategy. They are a complementary measure to improve indoor air quality in specific areas but should be used along with a proper ventilation system that provides an adequate amount of outdoor air to the building.
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