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July 30, 2020

A Holistic Approach to Indoor Air Quality

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People want to trust the air they breathe – outside and indoors. More than ever, as people return to the spaces where they work, learn, play and shop, the role air conditioning and ventilation plays in contributing to healthier indoor environments is in the spotlight. At the same time, building owners are trying to determine how to reopen in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

The Science Behind Indoor Air Quality

When it comes to air quality – your mother was right, fresh air can’t be beat. But considering that people spend substantial time inside, the question that should be asked is ‘how can we make the indoor air we breathe better?’

There’s a science to HVAC and air quality – and it takes a holistic approach to determine the optimal solutions.

“We’ve been in the business of improving air quality for years, and understand the science well,” explains Dave Regnery, president and chief operating officer, Trane Technologies. “Our expertise resides in total building solutions.”

It’s important to realize there’s no single solution for all environments. Buildings need to be viewed and assessed broadly, with a series of systems and structural factors working together to create the best environment for the space. Structures consist of different dynamic variables, such as age, occupancy, use, location and other unique traits. Because no two are exactly alike, approaching air quality solutions cannot be one size fits all.

However, the fundamentals of clean indoor air quality are clear: Fresh air is your friend. Ventilation is key. Filtration plays an important part.

While it may seem complex, there are four key factors to healthier indoor air quality, that when considered together, create a more optimal indoor environment.

  • Dilute (increased ventilations with outdoor air),
  • Exhaust (ensuring that the air in the space is being removed),
  • Contain (control humidity), and
  • Clean (safely use air cleaning technology as appropriate, utilizing different filtration options.)

This animation demonstrates the four important elements in action that we consider central to indoor air quality management.

Before opening offices, schools, restaurants and gyms, building operators should consider an indoor air audit or assessment with an expert. As a tool, assessments offer both short and long-term benefits, helping instill confidence in occupants and facility managers while paving the way to efficient building operations for years to follow.

Indoor Air Quality and Schools

Taking a holistic approach to optimizing schools’ indoor air quality can provide comfort for teachers, staff and parents, and build confidence for re-opening. Collaborating with an expert who implements a comprehensive approach to improving indoor air quality can ensure all appropriate steps are being taken, on time and on budget.

Read more about important factors to consider when addressing schools’ indoor air quality.

Other Considerations

There is evidence from The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE®), and other sources, that HVAC technologies can mitigate the risk of exposure to infectious aerosols in built environments; however, the transmission and mitigation of COVID-19 in buildings is yet to be tested and confirmed.

Specialized air filtration solutions, like HEPA and other MERV-rated filters can be effective in reducing the spread of pathogens when applied properly, especially in healthcare and hospital settings where very high levels of indoor air quality and infection control are necessary. While high efficiency filters play a part in a broader array of solutions, there is no single remedy or approach that works for every situation.

A New Normal in Air Quality

“It’s a different world for buildings and those who run them,” said Donny Simmons, president, Commercial HVAC Americas, Trane Technologies. “Building operators must plan to address the concerns of employees, tenants and customers while balancing new realities. They need a trusted partner who understands the impact of indoor air quality, where to make the right financial investments, and how to make buildings more sustainable for the long-term.”

Related News

Recent conversations on IAQ in the news.

Trane CEO on Reopening Buildings Safely
Coronavirus puts new focus on air conditioning
Air Quality Is Safety Focus for New York’s Schools

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