In just over a year, COVID-19 has infected more than 32 million Americans and claimed more than 575 thousand lives in the United States. As we learn more about SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—and how it spreads, research suggests that facilities with energy efficient features may be exacerbating the problem and may require modifications in the near future.
Recent evidence points to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems as one way the virus can spread between individuals. The Harvard Gazette stated in June that “air conditioning use across the southern U.S. may be a factor in spiking COVID-19 cases.” The website WebMD has also reported that some scientists are linking COVID spread with air conditioning usage. Finally, the Wall Street Journal also stated that “after urging steps like handwashing, masking and social distancing, researchers say proper ventilation indoors should join the list of necessary measures.”
If HVAC systems are not routinely audited and thoroughly assessed, they may pose airborne infection risks to building inhabitants—especially if the building is adhering to certain “energy efficiency recommendations.”
For example, the Energy Star energy efficiency program states that reducing operating and procedure room ventilation rates can lower utility bills and increase energy efficiency. However, increased airflow in these types of rooms is critical to preventing airborne infections and hospital acquired infections. It is vital for hospitals to ensure certain areas are “negative pressure,” meaning more air is entering the room than is leaving the room.
Hospitals are required to perform annual air balance testing and file certified copies of the report with accreditation agencies at least every three years, but traditional air balance reports only cover critical rooms and areas—which typically represent less than 20 percent of hospital space.
Life Balance Technologies developed an integrated solution for air balance auditing that covers 100 percent of a facility. The Life Balance process integrates the mechanical design, HVAC inventory, room application, and industry standards to audit the infection control parameters of an entire building. The process reveals both design and mechanical conflicts. Reports can be filtered for varied applications and users, and the database is designed to integrate with the set points of a building management system, monitor existing conditions, and provide real time reports.
To learn more about this innovative technology, visit our Software page.
Life Balance Technologies helps hospitals and companies easily identify airborne infection risks and effectively manage their HVAC systems. By streamlining the process for compliance, auditing, and reporting, we help reduce costs and save lives.