HVAC For K-12 Schools in North and South Carolina
School children spend a significant amount of time inside at school. The school environment is really children’s, and teacher’s, second home. Creating a safe and productive learning environment is essential to their success. Students have better performance in an optimized learning environment. Healthy indoor air is a critical part of that peak learning environment. Healthy air improves performance by keeping student healthy and alert and reduces absenteeism. The safe environment helps the teachers too.
Why is Indoor Air Quality Critical for Schools?
The COVID pandemic has brought indoor air quality to the forefront. Multiple organization have published varying guidance on how to control indoor air quality, reduce virus transmission, and keep schools open. To protect students in the school environment from the spread of COVID, ASHRAE and the U.S. Department of Education have recommended optimizing fresh air ventilation through the HVAC systems and settings, as well as enhancing filtration through the use of portable air cleaners, properly sized MERV-13 air filters, and UVGI systems.
Classroom Air Quality, CAQ, consists of the follow segments:
- Air Filtration
- Air Neutralization
- Humidity Control
- Thermal Conditioning
HMI represents HVAC manufacturers with product equipment lines that meet the critical design criteria of schools in every segment of IAQ.
Air Filtration in Schools
There has been guidance to increase the performance rating of filters in School HVAC system. Simply installing a higher performance air filter can create many challenges with existing systems. Some of these challenges include reduction to total airflow, increased material costs, filter availability, and increased maintenance requirements. HMI can help ask those questions and provide optimal solutions for each individual application.
Portable or local fan filtration units
Standalone units can be installed in every classroom or critical space. These units typically contain a dedicated fan and higher performance filters. They are mobile, so can easily be located where additional air filtration is required.
Filter Units could also be retrofit above drop ceiling so they are invisible to the occupants. The only visible sign of the units are the standard ceiling supply and returns. Mounting the units this way saves space in the classroom. To provide increased protection against the spread of virus, ultraviolet light system can be mounted inside the unit to utilized to neutralize any contaminants that are contained in the filter.
Another effective air neutralization technology is excitation. Excitation technology controls and minimizes particulate levels while producing no negative side effects and can be classified as a Subtractive technology.
An excitation system provides clean air by increasing the size of the particulates in a given space, allowing them to be transported by the HVAC system to the existing filters. Excitation is considered a subtractive technology, as it does not introduce new contaminants into the space to potentially remove existing ones. Excitation systems improve the performance of the existing filters by returning more particulate back to the filter and do not require the ‘plating out’ of particulate on to items in the occupied space.
Ultraviolet light, or ultraviolet germicidal irradiation ( UVGI ), technology has been around for a long time. The benefits of air disinfection through ultraviolet light exposure are well proven technology. UVGI in the upper area of occupied space has been proven to eliminate viruses in Hospital and School applications.
Installation of UV systems at evaporator cores has been long proven to keep coils clean and operating at maximum efficiency. These systems are easily installed in existing and new air handler units and give thousands of hours of maintenance free performance.
Air Quality Monitoring
A critical step in maintaining healthy air quality is monitoring the quality of the air. The only true way to determine what the quality of the air is in a space is to measure it. HMI offers a number of solutions to dynamically measure critical air quality parameters, CO2, VOCs, etc., in the space.
ASHRAE guidance for humidity is to maintain the relative humidity in the conditioned space to between 30 and 60%. During the coldest times of the year that can be a challenge in the classroom environment. We can provide humidification solutions for complex systems and individual point-of-use applications.
ASHRAE, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency all agree proper ventilation is a key factor for maintaining healthy indoor environments and reducing the spread of disease. Organizations have recommended increasing the amount of outdoor air brought into schools. However, simply increasing the amount of outside air into the conditioned space can create more issues. Depending on multiple environmental factors, outside air may not be clean or fresh. Additional outside air requires additional demand on all the factors of indoor air quality.
Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems, DOAS
Outdoor air requires additional equipment to meet conditioning requirements to improve indoor air quality. A dedicated outdoor air system ( DOAS ) is a unit supplying cooled, dehumidified outside air during summer and heated outside air in winter. The system can include an energy recovery system to take advantage of the thermal condition of the exhaust air in adding preconditioned of the incoming outside air.
Removing stale, contaminated air from occupied space is a critical component to healthy indoor air quality. Exhaust fans have been recommended to run continuously when schools are occupied and for some period of time before and after.
We offer a full line of bathroom and general exhaust fans for all school applications.
Large diameter ceiling fans can provide airflow for effective air circulation and mixing in large common areas, gyms, and any area with a high ceiling. The improved air movement can benefit student comfort and air quality.
Air distribution plays a significant role in how the conditioned air is mixed into occupied space. We have numerous solutions to improve ventilation efficiencies while maintaining occupant comfort.
Thermal Conditioning in Schools
Properly designed VRF systems can provide healthy indoor air in Schools. The multiple indoor unit configurations give great flexibility in location and operation. Units can be mounted in ductwork to provide a traditional HVAC system look to the classroom. HMI offers Indoor units capable of meeting ventilation air requirements by introducing ventilation air directly at the unit, or operating alongside a separate, dedicated outdoor air ventilation solution.
Our packaged rooftop units represent some of the most innovative technology in the market. These units deliver exceptional CAQ while operating at a high level of energy efficiency.
Indoor Environment Quality, IEQ
Indoor air quality is also impacted by the environmental conditions. Excess noise can create a challenging environment for learning. If students can’t hear, or are annoyed by some part of the HVAC system, they can’t learn. We offer many products to eliminate noise and vibration transmission from the HVAC equipment. Some of those noise solutions are from the source and some are from the system.
We also offer solutions for the main equipment. This equipment can be located outside classrooms or in mechanical room. There are many different noise abatement systems for this equipment generated noise pollution.
Contact HMI for more information on systems to eliminate HVAC noise in occupied space.