The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how offices used to operate. Air filtration systems and office air recirculation will face a major change when the offices reopen. While the two primary ways of transmission include aerosols and surface contact, experts also suggest that airborne transmission might be a possibility. Even if it may not materialize, aerosols travelling in the air may increase the risk of covid-19.
What are the Risks of Office Air Recirculation?
Offices are denser, smaller areas where recirculated air can be found in plenty. With the pandemic, working closely together in a small area is not a possibility. Appropriate social distancing needs to be maintained and the HVAC system needs to be reimaged. Ventilation and air conditioning will play a major role in combating viruses in the office space.
HVAC manufacturers suggest that open windows and proper ventilation are needed. Fresh air would become a priority as recirculating viruses come from the same air that recirculates inside the office space.
Air-borne virus particles can be in the ducts that throw the same air to different areas. It possesses the risk of catching the virus as many people share the same air with a few physical barriers.
However, earlier office spaces were designed to save energy and cost. Tightly sealed spaces and closed windows were required to become energy efficient.
Filtration systems like an HVAC system, HEPA system, and more can improve the quality of the recirculated air but do not provide access to fresh air. This is a problem when it comes to reopening the offices as covid-19 starts to subside. There’s a need to redesign the workspace in such a way that there’s minimum risk of transmission.
Now, the building managers must ensure that all the air is expelled out of the room. Negative pressure systems, like the ones used in hospitals, will throw out the air and ensure that more and more fresh air enters the room.
Minimizing the risk of covid-19 from recirculated air
Companies need to follow proper guidelines while opening offices. REHVA recommends that there should be no recirculation of air in the office space. Centralized air handling units that recirculate the air are a major threat to the area as they can lead to transmissions.
Even though there are filters installed in the system, they might not sufficient enough to filter the recirculating viruses. Most offices use UV light to eliminate the virus that comes through the air, but it is not a proven theory yet.
Another step is to increase the air supply in the building. It is recommended to turn on the ventilation and air conditioning before everyone reaches the office. Exhaust ventilation is important to increase the flow of fresh air in the office space. This might present some energy consumption challenges but managers have to figure out a way to protect their employees while maintaining efficiency.
Critical Air Management Solutions
The general rule of thumb should be to stay away from poorly ventilated spaces. Employees should work near open windows and areas from where fresh air has a maximum entrance. Office air recirculation can cause the virus to travel long distances and infect a larger area where there is no ventilation. Therefore, employees should find strategic places to work.
The pandemic should be a wake-up call for companies to reimagine their office spaces. Employers need to invest in energy-efficient technologies while ensuring that there is proper space for air to flow in.
Re-circulated air must be eliminated to prevent the spread of covid-19 and safeguard people at works. Office spaces must take care of the above things to ensure complete employee safety.
At the outset, the first step is to change the HVAC system and ventilation settings for allowing fresh air to come in while maintaining proper distance in closed areas.
Not only in offices but all types of commercial buildings also have to be wary of this situation. They must redesign their heating, cooling, ventilation HVAC system to keep people safe from the virus. Proper flow of fresh air is the key ingredient in eliminating the spread of the virus.
Contact EB Air Control to learn how can help your business can overcome office air recirculation risks.