COVID-19 has changed the way managers think about office facilities; as workers shifted to working from home, these managers have wrestled with ways of keeping staff safe on their return to the workplace.
Some advocate unrealistic measures, like blocking off huge swaths of an office building, or attempting to create traffic flow patterns by taping off access to areas. Some look to eliminate conference rooms or common areas. But others look to significantly reduce risks by addressing the source of aerosol transmission of pathogens and viruses—indoor air.
It’s been acknowledged by many leading scientists that the novel coronavirus is primarily transmitted via aerosolized droplets in the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
What’s more, those droplets linger in the air and stay active and infectious on surfaces. That’s why so many experts advise people to wash their hands frequently. But in close quarters of office buildings, where stale air is recirculated, it’s difficult to remain contaminant-free.
HVAC and opening windows may not be the magic solution
Some facility managers look to existing HVAC systems as a potential solution, but many of the existing systems aren’t designed to handle more air exchanges per hour, thus providing less fresher air. And, installing HEPA filters in the HVAC system’s air intake vents isn’t a solution either, since these thicker filters drag down the airflow and efficiency of the system, resulting in even less circulation.
As a side note, these thick filters often cause managers to increase the amount of time systems run, decreasing system life expectancy because parts work overtime to keep up with demand. And, as you will be aware, constantly running HVAC systems results in higher energy bills.
Opening windows for fresher air is a non-starter in a number of instances. Many modern office buildings looked to provide HVAC systems with an “airtight seal,” making windows non-operable for the sake of energy conservation. So, many returning workers can’t even open windows.
One option that is proving extremely popular with many leading education institutions, healthcare centres and corporate building owners is the installation of air purification with HEPA filtration.
One of the market-leading companies is Fellowes, manufacturers of the renowned AeraMax Professional. These commercial-grade air purifiers use four-stage air filtration with True HEPA filters to effectively and efficiently remove up to 99.97 per cent of airborne contaminants, like viruses, the flu, bacteria, allergens and odours from indoor air.
A computational fluid dynamics study showed just how effective the placement of AeraMax Professional air purifiers can be in enclosed spaces. Computation Fluid Dynamics uses highly accurate computer modelling to showcase how “fluid” moves through spaces, and how AeraMax Professional units would remove the contaminants in the air and at what rate, in real time. That way, office managers and building owners could see how the purifiers work before purchasing them.
Clearly, the pandemic has changed business forever. But, in some ways, it has shed light on new, healthful practices that can benefit people in the long run…like focusing on indoor air and cleaning it with AeraMax Professional.