Ventilation: Don’t Underestimate Its Importance in Commercial Settings
Whether at home, work or school, some estimates suggest we’re in an indoor environment as much as 90 percent of the time. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to air quality in the spaces we occupy, particularly in commercial settings. Keeping indoor air quality high often requires an adequate source of ventilation combined with techniques to reduce the amount of pollutants in the air.
What’s in the air?
Indoor air in a commercial setting can contain pollutants and contaminants that can affect health, comfort and overall well-being. Pollutants can aggravate allergies or asthma, contribute to respiratory conditions or cause disease or overall discomfort. These pollutants can be both organic and inorganic and can include:
- Particulates: Microscopic pieces of dirt, pollen, powders, wood, fibers and other material that can be inhaled.
- Organics: Mold spores, bacteria, viruses, germs and other microorganisms, many of which can cause diseases.
- Fumes: Gaseous material such as fumes from paints, solvents, cleaning materials, pesticides, fuels or industrial processes.
Why ventilate commercial spaces?
Commercial and industrial environments present more potential problems with indoor air quality than residential settings.
- Increased pollutants: A commercial or industrial environment can have more pollutants than a residential setting. The types of pollutants can more volatile or harmful, and the types of pollutants can be more numerous and varied. In a manufacturing setting, microscopic pieces can easily enter the air, especially when the process includes sawing, cutting, painting or treating material.
- Lack of natural ventilation: Commercial settings can often lack natural ventilation. At home, it’s easy to open a window for more ventilation. In a skyscraper office or an assembly line, opening a window isn’t an option.
- Inability to escape pollutants: Employees and customers in a commercial setting can’t normally just get up and walk away from indoor pollutants. Employees must stay on the job and customers must transact business. Respiratory equipment such as filtered masks can help in severe situations, but even then, others within the vicinity can be exposed.
Benefits of ventilation
Ventilation control systems provide benefits such as:
- Air circulation that directs pollutants and contaminants outside while bringing in a steady flow of fresh, clean air.
- Maintenance of indoor temperatures at a steady rate without wasting energy or disrupting indoor temperatures.
- Reduction of moisture and humidity that can cause damage to structures and their contents. Less indoor moisture also limits environments where insects and mold can thrive.
Ways to improve ventilation
- Source control: Source control means controlling and reducing indoor air contaminants and the source where they’re produced. Source control stops pollutants before they have the chance to make it into your indoor air. In a commercial setting, source control can include taking steps to reduce the number of particulates produced by industrial processes, limiting the amount of fume-producing substances used or installing more filtration or purification equipment at sites where pollution is produced.
- Energy-recovery ventilation: An extremely effective way to keep your commercial space well ventilated is by using an energy recovery ventilator. These devices will keep your indoor air cleaner while also helping balance temperatures without wasting energy. An energy-recovery ventilator, also known as a heat-recovery ventilator or air-to-air heat exchanger, pulls in indoor air and sends it into a heat exchanger. At the same time, fresh air from the outdoors is also being brought in and sent into the heat exchanger. As the two air streams pass close together, heat is transferred to the incoming air, which recovers heat energy that would have otherwise been lost. The process works similarly in summer when cooling energy is transferred to incoming warm air.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information about ventilation in a commercial setting and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!
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