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Fan Filter Units To Improve Indoor Air Quality of Schools and Other Public Buildings
Schools and other public institutions like hospitals are among the critical infrastructure that delivers services we all depend on. The ability to access and leverage these services depends on properly functioning infrastructure like structural, electrical, and mechanical building elements, all of which require funding and maintenance to operate. This includes the mechanical ventilation and heating/cooling systems in schools and other public buildings. Without proper ventilation, several undesirable air quality indicators can arise including stale air from low oxygen, the air being too hot or too damp, the accumulation of pollutants, and the presence of airborne bacteria and viruses including coronaviruses.
The State of School Ventilation Systems
A common trend among Canadian schools and other similar jurisdictions is a growing backlog of maintenance leading to poor performing infrastructure and ventilation. For example in Ontario, it was reported that 28% of schools and 45% of hospital assets are not in a state of good repair. The backlog of maintenance for schools alone would cost $3.7 billion in 2020 dollars. This figure includes a significant amount of mechanical ventilation systems.
If you think back to a Canadian school you attended as a child, this experience probably resonates with you. You likely attended a post-WW2 school with older infrastructure that is now aging and was always too hot and stuffy or too cold – many of these schools don’t even have air conditioning. With budget shortfalls every year and an aging portfolio, ventilation systems are getting worse all the time and reinvestment by the government is barely keeping up.
Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic
There was a growing awareness of ventilation issues in schools and some incremental investments to mitigate the issue prior to the pandemic, but everything changed during the global pandemic of 2020. When it was discovered that COVID-19 was airborne and could be mitigated by proper ventilation and air purification, there was suddenly a great interest in improving the indoor air quality of schools.
Governments are now aggressively trying to tackle the ventilation problems in schools that have been growing for decades. Everyone wants to keep kids safe and schools open, meaning that if investments in ventilation can improve this outcome then there is a strong case to do so. But the scale of the problem, the urgency of the situation, and the competing interests for limited funds challenge this goal. Therefore, there is a clear need for affordable and scalable solutions that can immediately improve the air quality of schools.
Challenges with HVAC Retrofits
Given schools already have an HVAC system, retrofits to improve air exchanges and provide more filtration are a common approach. This is often borne out of a desire to avoid a full system replacement, which is costly and disruptive for schools with classes in session. However, retrofits have their own challenges and may not bring the desired outcomes.
First is the matter of filtration – HEPA filters are widely accepted as a gold standard for capturing particles transmitting coronaviruses, and there are already encouraging investments by governments in deploying them. However, HEPA filters are often being used to augment the retrofit or overhaul of existing ventilation systems. This is where problems can arise, as old ventilation systems typically were not designed to incorporate a HEPA filter. This leads to significantly higher costs for schools with limited funds.
Second is the matter of air handling capacity. To move the air through HEPA filters retrofitted to the existing ventilation system, air handling also needs to be increased. Blowers usually need to be replaced in order to generate enough cubic feet per minute and static pressure to move air through the HEPA filters. This then expands the scope of the ventilation upgrade and adds cost. Adding capacity can be a complicated process because of the integrated nature of mechanical ventilation – if done incorrectly, not all rooms get the needed airflow. Therefore, a more cost-effective and practical solution for schools is desired.
Portable Air Purifiers for Indoor Air Purification
Some may ask, why not just use the portable air purifiers commonly seen in school classrooms already? Portable air purifiers are an important part of the toolkit because they are easily deployed, are affordable, and can be moved between areas. They were popular early in the pandemic because of the need for a quick solution.
Aeroex provides portable air purifiers and continues to advocate for their importance. But in a situation like schools where a permanent solution is desired and there is a backlog of ventilation repairs, portable air purifiers don’t address some of the root causes or provide the desired level of service. Portable units have more opportunity for human error, and they sometimes get turned off by the user because of the background noise they make when compared to traditional ventilation. Ambient control measures in the ventilation system are near the ceiling where they are less disruptive and become a permanent fixture providing constant air circulation and filtration.
Fan Filter Units – High Capacity and Cost Effective Air Filtration
To solve the problem of costly retrofits to a backlog of mechanical ventilation systems in schools with an immediate need for air filtration brought on by a public health challenge, Aeroex proposes the use of fan filter units.
Fan filter units equipped with HEPA filter units provide both additional air circulation and air filtration thanks to the high performance filters. Typically a fan filter unit is installed in the ceiling but it can act as a standalone unit, rather than completely retrofitting an existing system. A fan filter unit will easily integrate into the conduits of existing utilities in a school. The ease of installation and the comparable performance to upgraded ventilation with filter retrofits make fan filter units the clear choice. A fan filter unit will give the same result for less money!
The AIR FIT Fan Filter Unit
Fan filter units like Aeroex’s Air Fit come equipped with HEPA units. Designed for a range of uses including clean rooms in healthcare or specialty manufacturing, the Air Fit is known to meet the requirements of critical industries. And what is more critical than keeping our kids safe? Money should be no object, but in a resource constrained school system fan filter units are the clear choice to meet the current shortfalls of our school ventilation systems when compared to more costly ventilation retrofits.
Contact Aeroex To Learn More
If you’d like to learn more about our advocacy for clean air, public education, and the proper use of air purification systems, check out our social media. To get in touch with the team or learn more about our fan filter units, visit our website to contact us today.