Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Building Ventilation – 2021 Court Tech


Today, I saw an excellent article on Bloomberg.com regarding building air quality and ventilation issues.  This is an important court technology concern with the Covid-19 pandemic but also a long term concern for occupant health.  Since many courthouses have challenges in this area, I thought it might be good to share some questions and quote key responses from the article below?

Please read the full article here.



  1. How do you know if there are air quality/circulation problems?

    “One of the best ways to know is to measure the concentration of CO2 in each room or part of a building, he says, because it shows the amount of exhaled air that has built up in the room without enough fresh air to flush it out. C02 levels should register no more than 800 parts per million. “If you see [a place with] levels much above 800 ppm, don't spend much time in there,”

  2. What applicable air quality standards are there?

    Another option is to ask the manager of a building you enter regularly if they’re meeting standards set by ASHRAE, what kinds of filters are in use, or if they’ve made any HVAC upgrades recently. If you have to be in a small, airtight space, look for and stay near open windows. But it’s important to acknowledge that while ventilation helps mitigate your chances of contracting Covid-19, the risk is rarely zero.

  3. What kind building air quality upgrades should courts look toward?

    For building managers implementing these upgrades, Sasse also advises clients to switch to higher-rated filters. Many HVAC systems in commercial and residential buildings use filters with MERV 8 ratings (for minimum efficiency reporting value), but the CDC recommends using MERV 13 filters, which can remove up to 90% of air particles, or a  HEPA filter (for high efficiency particulate air) — what’s typically used by medical facilities. “A true HEPA filter is MERV 16, but not all systems can handle bigger filters because of the pressure they require,” Sasse says.

    More energy will be needed to heat and cool the additional amount of incoming air and to push existing air through denser filters. In some cases, HVAC systems may be too old to accommodate CDC-recommended changes, which would then require them to be replaced completely.

  4. What are the tradeoffs of updating your building air systems?

    “We're sacrificing energy efficiency for health,” Sasse says. But Steve Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, isn’t too concerned about new ventilation systems undoing progress on building efficiency — as long as building managers follow CDC guidelines and don’t pull in more fresh air than what’s really necessary.

  5. What are the health benefits of updating the air quality systems?

    The payoff would be immediate, he says, pointing to a 2000 study from Harvard University looking at how air quality affected the use of sick leave among more than 3,000 employees across 40 buildings. The researchers found that office workers in moderately ventilated sections were 53% percent more likely than those in highly ventilated areas to take time off due to illness. Preventing those absences could save companies $480 per worker each year, according to the study, and as much as $22.8 billion nationally.

No comments:

Post a Comment