Should You Upgrade Your Office HVAC System?
Indoor air quality is something we often overlook but should always be concerned about. According to the EPA, the average American spends upwards of 90% of their time indoors, where the pollution concentration can be two to five times higher than outside. The last two years have added another risk in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As things begin to return to normal and people return to the office, should you consider upgrading your structure’s HVAC system? The answer is likely yes, and here are several reasons why.
Improving Interior Air Quality
Indoor air pollution comes in various shapes and sizes, ranging from molds and dust to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by cleaning solvents, paints and other chemicals. Extended exposure to these materials can cause several ailments, including respiratory illnesses, colds, sore throats and other irritations. It can even cause an increased risk of cancer in the long term.
As we spend more time indoors, these risks become more prevalent. Some devices — such as air purifiers — as well as some plants can help remove these dangerous materials from the air. However, when you’re dealing with a building full of workers, all the snake plants in the world won’t be enough to pull all the contaminants from the interior air.
Anyone concerned about improving interior air quality should consider upgrading the building’s HVAC system to something with built-in air purification. You should also consider taking steps to change up cleaning solvents and other materials that could be putting out VOCa and compromising interior air quality.
Protecting Against Viruses
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of guesswork and speculation circulating about how the virus actually spread. Now, two years after its first appearance, we understand that it spreads in respiratory droplets that people exhale when they speak, breath, cough or sneeze. It’s not quite airborne, but these particles can get caught up in a building’s HVAC system and move to other parts of the building.
Traditional HVAC filters don’t work to prevent the spread of viruses or other pathogens in a building’s HVAC system. The EPA recommends upgrading to MERV-13 rated filters for home or business use or the highest-rated filter that a system can use. These filters aren’t always enough for large buildings, though. Installing an ionization system can eliminate up to 99% of pathogens from an HVAC system, in addition to being more effective for removing dust, pollen and other contaminants from the air.
Opting for Sustainability
Older HVAC units might still be functional, but they usually aren’t energy-efficient. They may rely on old or outdated refrigeration systems that could be dangerous if they begin to leak. Cooling alone can consume upwards of 15% of a building’s total power usage, and much of that energy is lost to leaky windows or ductwork.
Upgrading an existing HVAC system to something newer and more energy-efficient has multiple benefits, from lower utility costs to better operation and a smaller impact on the planet. Renovating the entire system also makes it easier to install new tools such as an ionizing filter and to ensure the ductwork isn’t leaking or wasting all that carefully cooled air.
It is also the perfect opportunity to consider installing a smart thermostat system. These provide you with the tools to carefully control the interior environment. They keep people comfortable when they’re in the office and alter the temperature when the building is empty so the HVAC system isn’t working extra hard to cool a vacant space. These tools can be set to change the temperature automatically and are controlled remotely with a smartphone app. They can even adjust themselves based on motion sensors and the day’s weather reports. There are several options to choose from, depending on your needs and budget.
Investing in an HVAC System Upgrade
After two years in a pandemic and a global push toward sustainability and energy efficiency, the question isn’t if you should upgrade your building’s HVAC system. The answer is always yes, and you must determine when to schedule that improvement. If you’re still utilizing the old HVAC system that came with your building, it’s definitely time for a change.