You don’t have to be a an HVAC expert to guess that increasing your building’s intake of fresh outside air is beneficial during a pandemic like COVID-19.
P1 Group values safety above all, and in order to follow CDC interim guidelines, has increased outside air (OA) rates during the pandemic at the company headquarters in Lenexa. In addition, P1 Group offers this service to customers as part of our Healthy Buildings initiative which includes options for UV-C treatment and surface sanitization as well.
“We want our associates and visitors to have peace of mind that we’re doing everything we can to ensure a healthy building,” HVAC Service Supervisor Sean Marconette said. “Most important, the increased fresh air helps flush ‘used’ and possibly contaminated air from the building faster.”
Sean notes that “contaminated” air is also prevalent during the usual cold and flu season. A higher ventilation rate during this time will reduce coworkers passing those germs to each other.
Vice President Tony Whited developed the direction and scope of work for implementation. Working with Sean, HVAC Service Technician Paul Larson performed the work on our rooftop units using NEBB standards for measuring and adjusting airflow rates.
And there’s a science to getting it right.
“We have to review the capacity of the equipment we’re dealing along with estimations for design-degree days to see how much outside air the equipment will be able to handle and still keep up,” Paul explained.
The challenge with increasing the OA is it’s going to tax the equipment more, leading to increased running costs.
“Higher ventilation requires the equipment to work harder. More OA requires additional cooling or heating to be used,” Sean noted. “Through our assessment, we try to help customers understand their equipment’s limitations pertaining to size, age, and other factors.”
But what is the cost of not doing it?
Sean says liability plays a major role. No one wants to be liable for people getting sick, which also leads to lost productivity.
“Some facilities simply don’t have maintenance staff equipped to assess and implement ventilation solutions at the level our expert engineers can,” Sean said.
Sean says with larger facilities, like major metropolitan hospitals, it’s ideal for P1 Group to team our experts with the facility’s engineer of record to design and implement solutions, taking the pressure of technical decision making off the leadership and staff.
What goes on will eventually have to be turned off, and maybe on again someday as well.
P1 Group’s HVAC team is working with our Controls division to design a simple way to accomplish this.
One of the many capabilities of P1 Controls is the Building Management System graphical user interface, which can be accessed from a PC. The interface maps the entire building, along with its individual systems, and allows interactive control at the click of a mouse.
“The ventilation is currently fixed at a higher volume of OA. Our plan is to coordinate a Standard Ventilation Rate and Optimized Ventilation Rate that is a user-selectable sequence from our Building Management System graphical user interface,” Carl Van Vliet, Controls Division Manager, explained.
“This will allow ventilation rates to be easily reset to normal when the pandemic has passed allowing for increased energy efficiency.”
Above: The Controls Division can see and control building operations from a computer screen.
In order to ensure the success of these efforts and create sustainability that can be replicated and revised for individual customers, P1 Group creates detailed reports assessing the desired scope of work, results, issues, specific unit data, and resolutions.
“We concluded that employing these ventilation strategies is creating a healthier working environment for all P1 office staff and visitors, while continuing to provide the comfort heating and cooling requirements for the building,” Sean said.
To learn more about what P1 Group can do to make your building healthier, call 913-529-5000.