Ups and Downs of Reopening
Reopening offices won’t be as easy as unlocking the front door. Property managers face a host of challenges before the workers return.
Full article here: Puget Sound Business Journal
‘Dilution is the solution’
Building operators are disinfecting HVAC systems and recalibrating them to pump in more outside air, including flushing entire buildings before and after work days.
They’re also boosting humidity levels inside buildings, upgrading HVAC filters and installing germicidal ultra-violet lighting and “bipolar ionization” units in air handlers.
“Ventilation is a big one,” said Travis Eshpeter, an operations manager at MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions, a Seattle-based mechanical contractor, where he and his colleagues like to say “dilution is the solution.”
“That’s what we’re doing for most buildings – increasing outdoor air and flushing that,” he said
Ironically, that goes against the mechanical contracting profession, which focuses on conserving energy. Eshpeter said bringing non-conditioned air into a building increases energy costs. By how much depends on the size of the building.
Boosting humidity makes sense when you stop to think about it.
“Viruses love to spread around in a low-humidity environment,” Eshpeter said, pointing out that influenza spreads in the winter when heating systems dry out the air.
Suddenly, UVC lighting and bipolar ionization units are being installed. The latter method floods an air handler with positive and negative ions and as they attract one another, the ions trap viruses and bacteria.
“We’ve had quite a few (properties) go with the ionization and UV lighting,” said Eshpeter.
Kauffman said, “There’s still a lot unknown but there’s a high degree of confidence that HVAC systems can have the right kind of filtration and operation to hopefully minimize the spread of Covid-19.”