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The next hot building amenity is clean air

By District Energy posted 06-03-2020 19:33


Yahoo! Finance


The best offices have meditation rooms and gourmet lunches. A high-end apartment building might have a dog park. But tenants and building owners have a new priority amenity: clean air.

The novel coronavirus pandemic brought heightened attention to air quality and cleanliness. Workers, shoppers and tenants are now demanding quality heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems in the buildings they frequent, experts say.

“[We want to] make sure that [building owners] can give people confidence to re-enter society because the indoor quality is what people would expect,” David Gitlin, president and CEO of Carrier Global Corporation, a Connecticut-based HVAC company, told Yahoo Finance, referring to the firm’s new Healthy Buildings Program. Carrier claims 17.9% of America’s HVAC market share, according to a survey of almost 1,000 building owners, managers and tenants by PickHVAC, a Texas-based cooling and heating information provider. 

After testing air quality, an HVAC company can offer options to filter out pathogens, increase airflow and replace ducts to prevent mold and bacteria. Some buildings opt to isolate airflow to local areas, while other buildings — like the White House, Harvard University and Google headquarters in Chicago and San Jose — use “bipolar ionization” systems, which use ions to capture harmful particles, according to Global Plasma Solutions, the Charlotte-based company that manufactures the technology.

“We have set up our teams to partner and target the millions of restaurants and retail spaces re-opening their doors in the coming weeks,” said Barry Po, Smart Facilities president at Vancouver-based mCloud Technologies, which uses artificial intelligence to optimize HVAC systems. “The key to bringing customers back and returning to profitability will come from assuring them these establishments are safe.”

For building owners who have shut off HVAC systems for the past three months during lockdowns, HVAC systems could actually be in worse shape and need more attention after the pandemic, according to MaintenX, a Tampa-based facilities repair company. 

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