Ventilation Systems

Building Ventilation Systems: How Much Ventilation Do I Need?

building ventilation systemBuilding Ventilation Systems

Ventilation is the process of bringing fresh outdoor air into a building to replace contaminated indoor air. Mechanical ventilation distributes airflow to rooms within a facility by way of fans and ductwork.

Returning to your building after COVID-19 lockdowns generally does not require a new building ventilation system. Many building owners and facility managers, however, are increasingly implementing building ventilation system upgrades and improvements to deliver more clean air to occupants.

The amount of ventilation your building needs to improve IAQ largely depends on several factors, including your facility, how you use it, and how your HVAC systems are running. Ventilation techniques have significantly improved over the last few decades and is now believed to have a direct impact on building occupants’ health and productivity. 

In addition to opening windows and using fans, facility managers and building owners can improve ventilation by increasing total HVAC airflow to occupied spaces, increasing air filtration, properly maintaining air filters, and implementing ultraviolet germicidal irradiation.

Increasing the amount of outdoor air coming into your building can help control temperature, humidity, pollutant levels, odors, and other factors that can impact your occupants’ the health. Air exchange rate is the rate at which indoor air is replaced by outdoor air. This number can largely differ depending on building applications and may vary by state codes.  

For more information of state indoor air quality regulations and policies, check out our interactive IAQ Map.

How Can I Determine the Ventilation Rate of my Facility?

When determining the ventilation rate of your building, there are five factors that can come into consideration: ventilation system design, outside air supply, outdoor air quality, equipment maintenance, and controlling other pollutant pathways.  

As all buildings are designed differently and serve different uses, determining the ventilation rate of your building depends on things such as the number of people in your building, the amount of equipment you have, and the purpose of use. For instance, if you use an area within your building differently than its original purpose (such as converting a closet into meeting space), your HVAC system may require modifications to accommodate such changes.   

Outside air that is delivered through your HVAC system helps dilute the many pollutants let off by building materials, equipment, people, furnishings, and more. Your outside air supply is critical in providing comfort in occupied spaces. Outdoor air pollutants, like carbon monoxide, can adversely impact your indoor conditions when it enters your building’s ventilation system, which is why choosing the right air filter and properly maintaining it is important. Additionally, you may have to take the placement of furniture and equipment into consideration – equipment that generates heat (such as computers or monitors) can impact the delivery of air to occupied spaces and cause your HVAC system to deliver air that is too cold.  

By diligently maintaining your HVAC equipment, you can contribute to adequate air delivery and quality. When it comes to addressing other areas of your building where pollutants can spread, such as elevator shafts and stairwells, you may need to provide special ventilation control measures to manage such sources.  

Have another question about Indoor Air Quality? Contact us today at 866-470-0827 or email your question to info@ecogroupusa.com!

improve indoor air quality

How Can I Improve Indoor Air Quality in My Building?

How to Improve Indoor Air in Your Building

Aside from ensuring that your air vents or grilles are not blocked, you may find yourself wondering how you can improve indoor quality in your building. In addition to considering the placement of furniture and equipment based on your HVAC system’s air circulation, temperature control, and pollutant removal functions, and integrating IAQ concerns into your purchasing decisions, there are a few additional steps you can take to improve the IAQ in your building: 

1) Consider upgrading your air filters to polarized media filtration 

Many businesses are currently using MERV 13 or higher air filters because of their ability to trap air particles that range from 1.0 to 3.0 microns in sizeHowever, these filters are not as effective in trapping air particles down to 0.3 microns, which means they are less effective at trapping microbes such as viruses and bacteria. The thickness of MERV 13 filters also means that your HVAC systems must work harder and use more energy.  

Our polarized media filters use an electric charge and filter media with antimicrobial technology that capture particles down to 0.3 microns. These filters clump small particles together, making them easier to capture while simultaneously reducing the pressure put on your HVAC system. Unlike regular MERV and HEPA filters, which need to be changed every 30 to 90 days, our polarized media filter replacement pads only need to be changed every 120 to 180 days.  

2) Utilize Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) 

UVGI is a disinfection method that uses short wavelengths of ultraviolet light (called UV-C) to kill or inactivate pathogens and microorganisms on surfaces and in the air. It has been used for years in hospitals, healthcare facilities, dental practices, and more. At 254nm, UV-C light is powerful enough to inactivate contaminants such as mold, viruses, bacteria and from the air as it cycles through your central air system. UVGI can be used to continuously clean your HVAC system’s cooling coils and if additional disinfection measures are needed, can be installed throughout your ductwork to clean the air.  

3) Continuously monitor and manage your air with ECOSENSE Platforms 

Once you have installed upgraded filtration and UVGI in your HVAC system, you can continuously monitor and manage your air to ensure that your lamps and filtration are working properly. Our proprietary sensors collect, monitor, track, and report data through gateways and dashboards built by us, so you can prove your systems are working, restore consumer confidence, and reopen the doors to your business safely.  

Have another question about how to improve indoor air quality? Contact us today at 866-470-0827 or email your question to info@ecogroupusa.com!

iaq problems

What Are the Most Common Causes of IAQ Problems?

What Are the Most Common Causes of IAQ Problems?

Common IAQ problems stem from multiple sources, including building occupants, weather, activities inside a building, and the relationship between building materials and furnishings. Inadequate temperature, high humidity, poor circulation, insufficient outdoor air intake, contaminants, and issues with your ventilation system are some of the most common causes of poor IAQ.  

Building occupants contribute to poor IAQ due to carbon dioxide, perfume, and body odors. Building materials such as dust, asbestos, fiberglass, and formaldehyde can also contaminate the air. Cleaning chemicals, such as solvents or disinfectants, can let off toxic vapors and VOCs, while everyday items such as carpets, paints, and furniture can release off-gas emissions into the air. Carpets and fabrics are notorious for collecting dust-mites and common office items like photocopy machines can be a source of ozone. 

Most significantly, your HVAC system can be one of the worst culprits of IAQ problems. Damp areas, stagnant water, and condensate pans are breeding grounds for mold, bacteria, and fungi, which are then passed through your ductwork and into your indoor environment. 

Have another question about UVGI, ECOSENSE Platforms or Indoor Air Quality? Contact us today at 866-470-0827 or email your question to info@ecogroupusa.com!

business solutions iaq

How Do I know Which IAQ Solutions Are Right for My Business?

How Do I know Which IAQ Solutions Are Right for My Business?

With so many choices of devices on the market that claim to measure many complex indoor air pollutants, knowing which IAQ solutions to choose for your business can feel confusing and overwhelming. Many indoor air quality devices have come under fire for deceptive and misleading claims about effectiveness.

A robust IAQ solution encompasses awareness, understanding, and action. A system with the right sensors that measure contaminant levels can help you monitor what’s in your air. Systems that provide data analytics make it easy to understand your specific situation so you can then take action and implement controls that lower the pollution inside of your facility.   

Ensuring that your system or device is calibrated correctly is vital; otherwise, you may experience wild swings in your readings. Finally, it is crucial to know how to interpret your readings.  

When evaluating an indoor air quality system for your business, consider asking yourself the following:  

  • Does the system provide reading thresholds to inform whether a reading is good or bad? 
  • Does the system have mobile or desktop apps that allow you to perform data analysis? 
  • Does the system tell you how your air quality is at a glance? 
  • Does the system help you understand what kind of behaviors are causing negative changes (i.e., using cleaning products or high humidity levels)? 
  • Does the system help you identify trends over times and seasons? 
  • Does the system tell you when you need to act?  

Have another question about Indoor Air Quality? Contact us today at 866-470-0827 or email your question to info@ecogroupusa.com!

laws regulations image

To What Indoor Air Quality Standards or Laws Do Companies Have to Abide by?

indoor air quality standardsTo What Indoor Air Quality Standards or Laws Do Companies Have to Abide by?

While federal organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) do not currently regulate indoor air quality standards, local and state ordinances are rapidly changing. New or emerging policies on IAQ are imminent.   

ANSI/ASHRAE Standards 62.1 and 62.2 are the most widely recognized IAQ and ventilation standards that mandate the minimum ventilation rates and other measurements needed to minimize negative health effects for your building occupants in new and existing buildings.

Guidance can vary at a state or local level. For instance, the New York State Department of Health released interim guidance during the Coronavirus Pandemic requiring that food service establishments in New York City install HVAC filtration with a minimum rating of MERV-13 or industry equivalent.  California has at least 25 state policies that mandate air filtration system upgrades in schools, radon exposure in construction materials, and more. 

Learn more about state-by-state IAQ regulations with our interactive State IAQ Regulations & Policies Map.

Regularly check with your local and state governments for the most up-to-date guidance on indoor air regulations and laws.  

Have another question about Indoor Air Quality? Contact us today at 866-470-0827 or email your question to info@ecogroupusa.com!

air pollutants

What Are Some of the Most Common and Hazardous Air Pollutants?

Some of the most common and hazardous indoor air pollutants in commercial buildings include biological contaminants (bacteria, viruses, dust, mites, pollen, animal hair), formaldehyde, indoor particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can cause or lead to the development of respiratory infections, lung cancer, and chronic breathing diseases like asthma. Building occupants who already have lung disease are at even greater risk from poor IAQ. 

What are the Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants?

Hazardous indoor pollutants such as viruses and bacteria can spread by people via airborne transmission when somebody sneezes or coughs. Tiny droplets carrying these contaminants can linger in the air for hours or spread on high-touch surfaces like light switches. Inhaling viruses or bacteria spread infectious agents such as coughs, colds, flu, tuberculosis, and more. 

Chemicals (including VOCs) from cleaning supplies can also cause health problems, even if they’re advertised as “eco-friendly” or “all natural.” VOCs that are released when using cleaning products can contribute to chronic respiratory issues, headaches, and allergic reactions, especially when an occupant has asthma or another respiratory illness. Cleaning products that contain VOCs and other toxic chemicals can include aerosol sprays, air fresheners, rug cleaners, furniture polish, and more.

One of the most common sources of biological contaminants is from central air handling systems, which can become a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and other biological contaminants such as biofilm and fouling. Wet and damp surfaces in HVAC systems contain the perfect conditions for mold spore growth, dust mites, viruses and bacteria, cockroaches, and other hazardous air pollutants, all of which can impact occupational health.

As a result, these contaminants can spread through your air conditioning system and into many areas of your facility.   

Have another question about Indoor Air Quality? Contact us today at 866-470-0827 or email your question to info@ecogroupusa.com!

indoor air quality

Why Does Measuring Indoor Air Quality Matter?

Why Does Measuring Indoor Air Quality Matter?

Measuring indoor air quality matters for your health because  poor IAQ can be especially dangerous for high-risk groups such as children, the elderly, or those suffering from chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. It has also been connected to sick building syndrome, building-related illnesses, reduced worker productivity, and decreased focus in schools.

People spend an average of about 90% of their time indoors, whether at home, work, school, or even in transportation. The quality of your air can impact the comfort and well-being of the people inside your facility and indoor air pollution consistently ranks as one of the top five environmental risk factors to public health. Did you know that nearly 3.8 million global deaths are the result of indoor pollution? Or that particulate matter causes numerous respiratory ailments such as decreased lung function, respiratory inflammation, and asthma?

The airborne spread of COVID-19 is one consideration that remains important in the indoor air quality conversation. Because only a handful of states currently have occupational safety and health codes that promote better indoor air quality in the workplace, COVID-19 transmission has hit certain industries such as manufacturing and long-term care facilities particularly hard. Manufacturing plants are one environment that foster particularly harmful indoor air quality conditions. To date, over 90,000 meatpacking, food processing and farm workers have suffered from workplace outbreaks of COVID-19. Ensuring that harmful particulates like viruses and other contaminants are removed from circulation in environments with poor ventilation – and being able to prove the resulting quality of the air – is becoming an increasingly important part of workplace safety.

You can measure the IAQ in your facility with ECOSENSE Platforms, using our innovative dashboards and air quality sensors that track, report, and collect HVAC system data points including temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, and more. Facility managers who measure indoor air quality using our technology can provide safer and healthier workspaces for occupants while simultaneously realizing HVAC energy savings.

Have another question about Indoor Air Quality? Contact us today at 866-470-0827 or email your question to info@ecogroupusa.com!