Ventilation is an important consideration for any building, but is often undervalued or overlooked in commercial premises, where warehouses and offices can sometimes lack access to fresh air. In a post-COVID-19 world, that is simply not good enough.
This month saw World Ventilation Day take place on the 8th of November, with Cath Noakes OBE, Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings at the University of Leeds, making the importance of good ventilation in all premises clear: “Good ventilation is part of creating a sustainable and low carbon environment, by using technology well to balance air quality, energy use and comfort. It is critical to making buildings more resilient to health threats including our regular battles with the transmission of colds and flu around crowded indoor spaces.”
During the pandemic, businesses faced increased scrutiny over every aspect of employee safety. One important part of this was assessing ventilation, which unfortunately continues to be overlooked despite it being a legal requirement under Regulation 6 of the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations that every enclosed workplace has a ‘sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air’.
Whether you’ve got the means to provide fresh air or you have to invest in a purified air system, good ventilation is worth it beyond complying with HSE regulations. Ventilation not only reduces the spread of airborne pathogens and pollutants like COVID-19, but also:
- Improves overall health
- Aids concentration
- Increases employee satisfaction
- Improves sleep quality
At Quora Group, we specialise in the installation and maintenance of ventilation and air conditioning systems for UK businesses. Our engineers know the ins and outs of ventilation and can install or maintain ventilation and air conditioning systems that fulfil ventilation requirements and help make any space more enjoyable.
If you’d like to install mechanical ventilation or have your existing system repaired or maintained, we can help. Click here to get in touch. Otherwise, read on for some of the top questions about commercial ventilation. Our answers will help you understand some of the main things you should consider for your own business.
How do you ventilate a room without windows?
Let’s look at ventilation in enclosed buildings
Some premises have no reliable access to windows, making access to fresh air difficult. Note we said difficult, not impossible – there are other ways to facilitate fresh air. In some small spaces, leaving the door to the room open may be sufficient, but this isn’t usually a long-term approach.
Businesses often have rooms with no windows designed for storage, warehousing, servers etc. They have very few access points, and doors must be kept shut for health and safety or security reasons. In these cases, the room must have technology fitted to ensure air supply. Fans are usually not a good option as they only circulate the stale air around.
Mechanical ventilation is the answer, but the specific system you choose will depend on your business and the room’s usage. Air conditioning can provide fresh air, but only if it is a system that includes an external condenser. A/C has the added bonus of being able to heat or cool a room – which is why it’s so commonly used in server rooms.
Alternatively, if you don’t need heating or cooling functions, you could also get a ducted fresh air system that can transport air from outside into the room and keep fresh air flowing at all times. Air handling units (AHU) fitted in your building can also purify the air through filters and keep the space fresh, healthy and clean.
How does a fresh air ventilation system work?
There are a few different ‘fresh air’ ventilation systems, all of which utilise some form of air-to-air transfer between an indoor unit and an exterior one. Each system works differently depending on its design, but the main function is that air is pulled into the building from the outside unit and then vented into the building. As this happens, the unit also removes air from the inside to then pump it back outside.
In air conditioning, this process also involves refrigerant gas and a heat exchanger, which can both heat up or cool down the air put out by the unit. AHU’s pull fresh air from outside and directs them through ducts to ventilate multiple rooms.
Some buildings don’t need a mechanical solution. They may simply need to install ducts or other forms of access to outdoor air such as air bricks, but the utility and superior ventilation offered by mechanical units has made them very attractive to modern business owners.
How long should you ventilate a room for COVID?
Before COVID-19, very few of us ever discussed how long we should keep windows open in our offices unless the temperatures were intolerable. After scientists began to state that 10 minutes of fresh air was enough to cut the risk of spreading COVID-19 particles, we all began taking ventilation a little more seriously.
In commercial properties, especially if you’ve already got A/C or AHUs fitted, opening a window can compromise efficiency. Instead, switch off any recirculation settings for your AHU or A/C, ensuring only fresh air is being brought in, and indoor air is pumped out. If the air within the room itself is recirculated, virus levels may rise.
Some units can be fitted with HEPA or UV filters, which can help reduce the risk of airborne virus levels. Regular maintenance is crucial to ensuring your ventilation measures stand up against virus levels. Your mechanical units must undergo a thorough cleaning, disinfection and filter replacement at least once a year.
Quora Group can ensure your existing ventilation equipment is kept well maintained and operating at optimal levels to prevent the spread of airborne viruses and particles. Get in touch today to learn more about our ventilation services.