Healthy Air Must Flow

May 2, 2021

The risk of failed ventilation can no longer be minimized.

Imagine the HVAC fails in your facility ten or twenty years ago. After the repair bill hits,
a decision is made to avoid that cost in the future, taking operating expenses and asset
lifecycles into account. The smart people in the room try to weigh the human cost of
discomfort due to lost temperature and humidity control, but it’s hard without clear
numbers. A plan is made, consensus is built, hands are shook, and things move forward.

Today, the handshakes feel like signs of a simpler time, but it is the evaluation of costs
that should concern us. A very big risk has not been accounted for that is very clear to us now, after 2020. What was missed? In our imaginary building ten years ago, there was
also a significant rise in sick days the next week. Perhaps someone connected the rash of colds to the lack of good airflow, but that concern did not make it up the chain to the
decision makers.

The truth is, building owners and operators are very well-practiced at accounting for the cost of repairing or replacing a failed piece of equipment. Failed ventilation itself, on the other hand, has many more risks that owners and operators are less practiced at accounting for, but should no longer be left off the list. And while the discomfort of poor temperature control has real impacts on performance,1 when the HVAC goes down, buildings lose more than temperature control. Lack of airflow and humidity control can both lead to increased exposure to pollutants and pathogens.

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