Connectivity to Improve Building Wellness with Optimization, Efficiency
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to force businesses to embrace technology. The COVID-19 virus forced industries, including schools, universities, healthcare, and manufacturing facilities to change operations overnight.
Over the past 10 weeks, government mandated stay-at-home orders transitioned brick and mortar businesses into remote work environments, teachers adopted virtual classroom setups, and office buildings forced employees who could transition to home offices.
No matter the industry, technology played a critical role in getting through the peak weeks of the pandemic.
We’ve come a long way.
According to the Energy Efficiency Impact Report, digitalization and the evolution of smart technologies have revolutionized energy efficiency over the past 40 years. Artificial intelligence, grid edge, cloud and internet of things technologies have created an ecosystem of connected devices that made overnight transitions like what happened with COVID-19 even possible.
For instance, during quarantine weeks, commercial buildings were able to leverage technology for maintenance and operations management from afar. Using remote access, operators used buildings management system (BMS) dashboards to identify at-risk assets through fault detection and critical alerts.
Going forward, remote connectivity will continue to facilitate system checks from a connected device, limiting the deployment of work orders to physically check buildings for inefficiencies. Now, a technician only needs to go onsite when an asset needs to be physically worked on. This helps keep staff healthy and practicing social distancing, while maintaining optimal systems and infrastructure within buildings. As the world slowly transitions back to regular operations, remote practices will remain integral to a facilities wellness.
Re-Open for Business.
As the pandemic continues, it is up to people and building maintenance practices to slow and prevent the spread of the airborne virus.
- Continuing remote access to Building Automation Systems. Controls for temperature, humidity levels and energy usage can be set without deploying workers to the site. Instead, digital remote monitoring embeds system performance and cost performance indicators into the platform to tie purchases and work orders to financial impact. This helps maintain budgets, and optimal facility environments at lower cost and reduced waste.
- Review and update of cleaning practices. Research shows coronavirus can live on surfaces for several hours to days, meaning standard cleaning protocols may not be enough anymore. Technology using UV light disinfection may be an option to improve safety of staff and visitors. Studies show that using UV light technology to sterilize surfaces can eradicate up to 99% of viruses and bacteria in less than 15 minutes, saving cleaning time, gaining efficiency, and reducing risk of exposure to building occupants.
- Increased Ventilation. Ventilation with increased amounts of outdoor air will be vital to diluting airborne contaminants and decreasing disease transmission rates. Utilizing your BMS to monitor the amounts of fresh outside air and room air exchange rates provides an automated solution that improves indoor air quality.
- Humidity Levels. Evidence suggests viruses survive in low-humidity environments. Studies have shown that maintaining space humidity levels between 40-60% relative humidity is an effective method for reducing virus transmission by creating the most unfavorable environment for survival of microorganisms. Accurate measurement and control of humidity will yield better comfort and occupant health results.
- Air Filtration. Improving filtration practices by using HEPA filtration and higher levels of MERV-rated filters can capture virus particulates improve central air and other HVAC filtration to MERV-13 (ASHRAE 2017b) or the highest level achievable.
- BMS Programming. Modifying BMS programming for the ventilation systems to operate an additional two hours before-occupancy and post-occupancy, including operating the exhaust fans and opening outside air dampers, improves air quality and increases air changes in the building to flush out contaminants. New monitoring sensors can help measure particle counts in the air, enabling the building automation system to increase ventilation when needed.
As we enter the next stage of the coronavirus pandemic, Stark Tech Group is prepared to help with strategic plans for reopening buildings. Together, with the appropriate measures in place, occupants can feel safe to return to work. Stark’s Facility Health and Wellness Program is available to address health and wellness concerns on a continual basis to ensure the health and safety of staff and visitors.
For more information, visit starkcdn.azureedge.net or call 716.693.4490. Stay healthy. Stay safe.