Nick Baldwin, of air management specialists Mansfield Pollard, looks at the challenge of striking the right balance between Indoor Air Quality and energy efficiency.
Outdoor air pollution levels and energy efficiency are frequently talked about in the media and, most recently, the topic of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has been making the headlines. But the fundamental principles of energy efficiency and good IAQ are at odds. Energy efficiency requires a tightly sealed building to minimise the escape of heated or cooled air, reduce outdoor air infiltration, and restricted use of HVAC systems; good IAQ calls for sufficient quantities of clean air to enable a sense of wellness without toxic pollutants and for carefully controlled temperature and humidity.
An essential factor in providing adequate fresh air efficiently is that the HVAC systems must be fitted with effective filtration to prevent the majority of particles (and gases) in the outdoor air from making their way indoors.
A poorly/incorrectly ventilated working environment can affect your business in a variety of costly ways. These can include low employee morale, computer downtime, damaged interiors and high capital expenditure to replace prematurely deteriorated air conditioning systems.
In addition, indoor air quality has a huge bearing on human performance. As IAQ reduces there is a direct correlation with productivity and an increase in sickness levels. A recent Healthvent EU research project reported that almost two thirds of the burden of disease traced back to poor IAQ was a result of pollutants coming into a building.
The reducing quality of outdoor air, especially in major conurbations is a cause for concern. However, this risk can be significant mitigated via effective pre-filtration prior to air entering the building. The global introduction of ISO 16890 filter classification, based on particulate classes, means that filter specification can be aligned to the real condition of the desired application.
An essential factor in maintaining efficiency is regular maintenance. It has been shown that PREVENTATIVE rather than reactive maintenance can reduce energy consumption cost by 5%-40% depending on the system or equipment involved, and improve equipment life and uptime.
Likewise, the space being supplied by the HVAC equipment should be evaluated regularly for changes in occupancy and use, as activities conducted in a space also contributes heavily to indoor air pollution.
Mansfield Pollard has extensive experience of working closely with a variety of sectors to provide ventilation solutions which minimise operating costs whilst meeting with the appropriate regulations. Our customers are looking for a company that can deliver on its promises and understand the importance of regulatory compliance and the provision of safe and comfortable environments.
It is crucial that we can understand exactly what the customer requires and work with them, and any other stakeholders, to develop a solution which provides the best overall outcome in terms of capital outlay and operating costs. It is also vital to have a good understanding of the current regulatory framework and a strong sense of how that is likely to develop over time.
Many of the companies that we work with have outdated ventilation systems which require updating to meet regulatory requirements and to take advantage of new more efficient technologies which, in turn, leads to a reduction in operating costs.
Our aim is to provide innovative ventilation solutions, with a focus on energy efficiency whilst working with our customers to minimise any operational disruption. The success we have experienced demonstrates that our customers value the solutions which we design and deliver and the way that we manage projects.
CASE STUDY: BESPOKE AHU FOR NUFFIELD HEALTH
Mansfield Pollard was appointed by Nuffield Health to upgrade the swimming pool air handling units at its Fitness & Wellbeing Crawley Central Club in West Sussex.
The Bradford based manufacturer replaced the existing Calorex units – which were in a poor state of repair – with a single combined AHU to serve both pool areas and increase energy efficiency with a more easily maintainable unit.
The project required meticulous planning and coordination between the specialist engineers and designers as the units were situated in a small rooftop plantroom with limited access. The new AHU had to be flat packed and built within the plantroom to reduce crane lift operations and overcome the difficult access to the building.
Mansfield Pollard designed the AHU, ductwork, attenuators and controls, and also carried out the mechanical and electrical installation before finally commissioning the trend control system; all fully completed in a two week period. To allow the pool to remain operational, the existing supply and return air ducts were connected to temporary fans and a small LPHW coil was connected to the heating services so a suitable environment could be maintained for the gym members whilst the work continued.
John Watkins, Technical Services Manager for Nuffield Health, said: "This project had a very strict time schedule so it was extremely important for us to partner with a company that shared our work ethic.
"We were impressed with Mansfield Pollard’s flexible approach and with the way that they worked with us to overcome the challenges that we faced. Everyone worked extremely well together, and under some very restrictive conditions. We were delighted that the project was delivered on time."
Paul Dresser, Commercial Director for Mansfield Pollard, said: "We were thrilled to work with Nuffield Health once again. Our team of experts also provide the Health Technical Memorandum (HTM) specification hospital air handling units within Nuffield Health’s hospital business, and we are proud to support and work with Nuffield Health in maintaining its estate. This on-going relationship is another example of how our air management experts can recommend solutions that not only tackle the problem but exceed expectations.”