Studies about the health impact of clean air in workplaces, educational settings and public buildings were already creating renewed interest in the ventilation sector before Covid-19. In fact, we wrote about this topic a couple of years ago when we noticed that indoor air quality was grabbing as many headlines as outdoor air pollution.
Now, the pandemic is generating a rush for indoor air quality improvement like never before.
Pre-Covid, most workers travelled to air-conditioned offices where the windows were always shut and the temperature and ventilation were centrally controlled using HVAC systems. Then lockdown happened and the vast majority of office staff started working from home.
As vaccines are rolled out and workers begin to return to offices, the spotlight is well and truly on the building’s ventilation, which could potentially be capable of blowing viruses around the system and effectively spreading it through the building.
Experts have talked a great deal about letting in fresh air, opening windows and making sure there is good ventilation to help combat the spread of coronavirus.
The World Health Organisation has stated that “air conditioning, ventilation, or other climate control systems that are well-maintained and operated should not increase the risk of virus transmission.
In fact, good ventilation systems should help and we have written previously about how ventilation can also help to keep coronavirus at bay.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HVAC improvements are an essential part of a pandemic prevention strategy in the wake of coronavirus, along with social distancing, wearing masks, and other precautions.
How ventilation helps
Guidance from the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (Cibse) sets out how systems should be used to improve indoor air quality and minimise the chance of viruses spreading. These include switching systems to draw in full outside air rather than operating in recirculation mode.
HVAC manufacturers are also supplying new technologies that can monitor and filter out viruses and contaminants.
What does the future look like for the post-Covid HVAC sector?
HVAC systems combined with new technologies could help us in the fight against future pandemics. Just this week The Engineer reported that technology designed to detect biological threats and viruses in airports and hospitals is to be customised to identify the COVID-19 virus in public places. Durham-based Kromek is behind the innovation which can detect viruses, including mutations of COVID-19, with the potential to protect against the outbreak of pandemics in the future. Kromek has said site operators will be able to detect what level of ventilation is needed and if decontamination is required.