The Case for Commissioning

How third-party commissioning agents can improve building construction.

Working with thousands of buildings over the last three decades, I have witnessed firsthand a critical issue in the building industry: Construction Quality. Serious deficiencies with buildings are shockingly common.

These flaws are often born from a construction event — not only in new construction but also remodels and even simple equipment replacements. This quality deficiency is prevalent in all types of buildings: big and small, simple and complex, commercial and residential.  Retail, restaurant, office, grocery, lodging, education, warehouse, data center, healthcare… none are immune.

As a result, we have buildings with:

  • An unhealthy and uncomfortable indoor environment
  • High energy use
  • Soaring repair and maintenance costs

Causes of Poor Construction Quality

I have observed four key root causes of poor construction quality:

  1. Pressure on time and money – As a society, we want things faster and cheaper, and buildings are no exception. This puts great constraints on construction teams, forcing errors and cut corners. Important design elements are being ignored or intentionally removed from scopes of work.
  2. Scarcity of skilled labor – The skilled labor shortage has been a national challenge for a while now and is getting increasingly worse. Because of this, we have people installing building systems who lack the necessary training and experience. Even when intentions are good, mistakes happen.
  3. Lack of integrity – Sadly, personal character and ethics are undervalued by many. Frequently I see reports from contractors that claim certain tasks were done but, when checked, clearly are not so… A construction checklist indicating the presence of important equipment accessories that are in fact missing, a balance report showing airflow set to design while the components necessary to do so are not even installed, and the list goes on. Much of the construction process is invisible to the building owner and thus ripe for dishonesty.
  4. Absence of accountability – The vast majority of construction issues are not being caught. In the rare cases they are caught, they are not being pursued to a successful resolution. This problem is exacerbated for chain building owners who are trying to manage dozens, if not hundreds, of projects at a given time. They are unable to keep up, and their level of oversight diminishes.

Commissioning: How to Improve Construction Quality

So, what can we do about it? We can give construction contractors more time and money to do their job and, though that may help, that does not ensure success. The skilled labor shortage is a long-term problem and will not be solved any time soon. We can and should associate with those who have integrity, but we also must verify that our trust in them is justified.

What can we do immediately? What we can immediately do to improve construction quality is provide accountability by auditing and inspecting the construction process. In other words, we can commission the building.

An independent commissioning agent does this by working alongside the design and construction teams, objectively checking things along the way — but not replacing those teams or their responsibilities. The commissioning agent examines particular details of the building systems and also considers how those systems work together in the big picture to accomplish the primary purposes of the building. An experienced and diligent commissioning agent will uncover construction deficiencies and will work with the appropriate contractors to see those issues to a successful resolution.

Without this accountability built into our construction processes (AKA commissioning) the quality of our buildings will only continue to get worse.


Melink offers commissioning services. Contact us to learn more.

HVAC Ductwork Design

Have you ever wondered how HVAC ductwork is designed?

There are actually six methods for designing low, medium, and high-pressure HVAC systems:

  • Equal Friction Method
  • Static Regain Method
  • T-Method
  • Extended Plenum Method
  • Velocity Reduction Method
  • Constant Velocity Method

The most commonly used method is the Equal Friction Method. This method is typically used for low-pressure systems found in commercial buildings and is distinguishable by the fact that the pressure loss in the duct system per every 100 feet of duct is designed to be the same for the entire system. A well-designed system is typically designed to have an average friction rate of about 0.1” of water column per 100 ft. of duct length.

After the desired friction rate and cubic feet per minute (CFM) of airflow is determined for a system, an air duct calculator is used to properly size the ductwork that can support these requirements. The major disadvantage for the Equal Friction Method is that there is no provision for equalizing pressure drops in duct branches unless the duct layout is symmetrical.

Air Duct calculator for HVAC ductwork design

Why Is Duct Design Important?

HVAC systems are comparable to cardiovascular systems; rooftop or air handling units are like the heart, and ductwork is similar to the body’s arteries and veins. Taking this example further, if arteries or veins are too big or too small, issues (such as high blood pressure or a stroke) can start to arise.

Similarly, if ductwork is incorrectly sized, vital issues to the units can arise. Having ductwork that is too large can lead to a low CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) of air flow in a given space, which could cause the unit to run longer in order to properly heat or cool a space. Inversely, having ductwork that is too small can lead to high velocities and static pressures, creating a loud environment and putting unnecessary stress on the system.

Either direction you go — too big or too small — the system’s life span and energy expenses are both negatively impacted by having incorrectly sized ductwork. Having properly sized ductwork can lead to lower energy expenses, longer unit lifespans, and comfortable environments.

How Does a Melink Technician Verify Ductwork Installation?

While on site performing a Test & Balance, Melink technicians are trained to question if duct systems are installed correctly in the situation where proper airflow is unattainable, unless unit total speeds are further adjusted to deviate from the design.

When occurrences such as this happen, Melink technicians can reference the mechanical plans, a duct design table, or an air duct calculator to verify what the proper duct size should be for a given amount of air flow and compare that with the installed ductwork.

A close up of a device

Description automatically generated
This picture represents how air moves in ducts. Areas that are red have high static pressure, and areas that are green are showing high velocity.

Melink technicians are also trained to look for and identify areas of dynamic losses, which are portions of ductwork that have high friction rates and high static pressure.

Examples of dynamic losses due to installation errors are incorrect duct take offs, failure to include duct turning vanes, long runs of flex duct, or crimped flex duct. These issues, if not corrected, can shorten the lifespan of the unit and cost the owner upwards of $1,200 per year extra in energy expenses. Any duct design discrepancies found in a Melink Test & Balance will be reported and photographed for the customer to reference.


Contributed by Andy Austin, Jeremy Neff & Anna Rusconi

COVID-19 and Building Ventilation

Keeping your HVAC breathing through the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the United States continues the fight against COVID-19 and many reopened businesses are concerned about indoor air quality, new requirements are being implemented for the public’s safety.

Recently, New York allowed for the reopening of shopping malls but with a mandate from Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Update HVAC filters with at least a MERV-11 rating to capture the potentially airborne coronavirus particles. Likewise, Colorado’s Denver Public Schools unanimously approved Denver schools to get ventilation upgrades to help stem the spread of coronavirus. So what do these guidelines mean, and could other states follow these policies?

HVAC Filters

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is used to measure the effectiveness of air filters on a scale of 1 to 16. The higher the MERV rating, the greater the filtration, i.e. the smaller the particles it can catch. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends to improve central air filtration to the MERV-13 level (or the highest compatible with the filter rack) and to seal edges of the filter to limit bypass.

MERV filter rating for HVAC systems
Model of MERV filter ratings. (Source)

However, updating an HVAC system’s air filters may not be as simple as it sounds. For instance, a common factor that will get overlooked is that most HVAC systems that were designed for lower MERV filters (likely most of them) will need to be rebalanced for the new filters. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filtration but also the higher the static pressure (or resistance) that the fan must work against, resulting in a drop in airflow. The reduced airflow could cause comfort problems and even frozen coils. To prevent these issues, the airflow will need to be measured with the new filters installed, and then the fan speed will need to be increased to achieve the designed airflow.

Yet this is still not a “one size fits all” solution for all. Many HVAC units cannot handle the higher-rated filters. Using a filter with a higher MERV rating may cause the motor to burn out. This is why it is important you have a trained technician review your unit before making any changes.

Other Building Ventilation Recommendations

In addition to replacing filters, ASHRAE recommends the following actions, with the ultimate goal being consistent and frequent air changes:

  • Increase outdoor air ventilation (use caution in highly polluted areas); with a lower population in the building, this increases the effective ventilation per person.
  • Open minimum outdoor air dampers, as high as 100%, thus eliminating recirculation. (During mild weather, thermal comfort or humidity within a facility normally wouldn’t be affected. During extreme weather, this clearly becomes more difficult to control.)
  • Consider portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters.
  • Consider Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI), protecting occupants from radiation, which is particularly in high-risk spaces such as waiting rooms, prisons and shelters.

Developing Solutions

While the experts are recommending the above items, they are not mandatory across the country. States’ policies vary. Not to mention that COVID-19 research is still developing.

COVID-19 changing building ventilation

The result, in the near term, is likely to be a patchwork — some commercial buildings, schools, colleges, and other facilities will make investments, while others will not. One example of an organization making the investment to fight COVID-19 is KIPP DC, a publicly funded and privately operated network of seven school campuses with 1,200 employees and 7,000 students. KIPP DC has taken huge measures, working to find the ideal system optimized to filter the coronavirus.

KIPP DC’s Coronavirus Filter System (Source)

Hire Melink to Help

Overwhelmed and not sure where to begin? Melink employs a 100% self-performing, NEBB-Certified national network of Test and Balance (T&B) HVAC technicians that can quickly deploy to assess mechanical systems, verify airflow rates in accordance with ASHRAE 62.1 standards, and perform any traditional T&B work. 

We have multiple, long-standing relationships with some of the largest national restaurant, retail, hotel, and supermarket chains. These relationships began because those partners liked the idea of having just one third-party company to coordinate. Melink handles all their properties by objectively verifying that the HVAC systems were installed and are working as expected.

We are here to help you navigate the ever-changing recommendations and regulations of the pandemic. Let us help you keep your doors open while helping protect your employees, customers, and equipment. Contact us.

Indoor Dew Point: Maintaining Thermal Comfort, Avoiding Building Damage

Condensation, moisture absorption and, subsequently, mold or organic growth are often a result of high indoor dew point combined with cool surface temperatures. For example, if a facility’s indoor dew point is above 60oF, it is possible that moisture will begin to condense on cool surfaces like ductwork, chilled water supply lines, windows, or refrigeration systems. This collection of moisture can cause damage to the building, as well as to merchandise. It can even promote organic growth over time.

In addition to the risk of moisture accumulation, ASHRAE recommends maintaining a dew point below 62 oF to meet thermal comfort for approximately 80% of occupants; a dew point of 45 oF is recommended to maintain summertime humidity comfort levels.

Monitoring Dew Point

Consider this: You are a kid in a candy store with a plethora of delicious options in front of you. You sort through the store and boil your decision down to two candy bars.

Option A: The tried and true milk chocolate bar. Nothing fancy but classically delicious.

Option B: Fluffy nougat topped with caramel and peanuts, coated in milk chocolate. An exciting snack bursting with flavor.

Did you choose Option A or Option B?

If I had to guess, you chose Option B as it gives you more variety with your purchase! Now, what if I told you that the decision you just made also can apply to thermal HVAC design and dew point monitoring principals?

Option A: A design principal of maintaining 60% relative humidity (RH).

Option B: A design principal of maintaining a 60oF dew point.

Both are similar and help maintain a healthy building, but maintaining a 60oF dew point (Option B) is inherently better and offers a more reliable risk indicator. Using 60% RH as an indicator (Option A) is unreliable as it creates needless concern when air temperature is cool. In the example below, you can see that the amount of water vapor in the air remains the same while relative humidity concentration varies depending on the temperature of the air.

Conversely, a facility manager or building owner may have a false sense of security when indoor air temperature is above normal levels because relative humidity will decrease as air temperature rises. These reasons are why dew point should be used as a threshold of concern. Dew point will not only factor in moisture content and temperature of the air but also provides a risk indicator for condensation and moisture absorption, which should be a facility manager’s primary concern.

Using Indoor Dew Point as a Risk Indicator

If you are already using indoor dew point as a risk indicator for indoor moisture activity, then continue to do so! Specifically, look to ensure that indoor dew point remains below 60 oF during cooling operations to reduce the risk of moisture absorption, condensation, and organic growth.

If you are not using indoor dew point as your risk indicator, now is the time to do so! You could be surprised to learn that measuring relative humidity alone may not be keeping your facility safe.

If you are already noticing signs of moisture accumulation, mold or organic growth, then ASHRAE recommends implementing the following HVAC factors to reduce your risk:

  • Ensure that ventilated air is dehumidified to a dew point below the indoor dew point when the building is in cooling mode.
  • Ensure that all condensation inside HVAC components is being properly drained.
  • Ensure that indoor surfaces are not cooled to temperatures below indoor dew point during occupied and unoccupied modes.
  • Keep indoor dew point low enough to ensure that condensation does not occur on cool surfaces of HVAC components, building materials, or building furnishings.
  • Ensure that humidifiers are sized, installed, and controlled properly to avoid the risk of overloading indoor air with humidity.
  • Ensure that cool HVAC and plumbing components are properly insulated to keep their surfaces about 10 oF above indoor dew point.

These simple steps — in addition to proper HVAC ventilation, indoor air monitoring, indoor air verification, and keeping an eye on seasonal changes — can help ensure that your facility is operating in a safe manner while reducing risk of mechanical damage, moisture accumulation, or organic growth.

If you would like to learn more about ways in which your indoor air environments can be improved, please reach out to us. Please complete our contact form or contact us by phone at (513) 965-7300.

How Restaurants Can Verify Proper Ventilation for Health & Comfort

If you have owned or operated a restaurant, you are familiar with the challenges of maintaining proper airflow throughout the building. From the kitchen to the front of the house to the back of the house, proper airflow can be challenging to keep in balance. That said, restaurants go out of balance for many reasons, wreaking havoc on a building’s health, comfort, and ventilation.

Does your restaurant look like this?

Restaurant Ventilation Problems

Unfortunately, these types of issues are extremely common in existing restaurants throughout the United States, and, when left unaddressed, can lead to negative building pressure, which causes serious long-term damage, poor indoor air quality, poor energy efficiency and uncomfortable conditions.

What are the industry guidelines for building ventilation?

ASHRAE 62.1 outlines minimum ventilation rates for various types of buildings, as well as other measures to ensure acceptable indoor air quality (IAQ) for human occupants.  In a nutshell, ASHRAE recommends a certain minimum amount of fresh outside air be introduced through the building’s HVAC system.  It also recommends that the proper amount of outside air be verified at least every five years. Without properly setting the outside air intake volume, buildings can experience negative building pressure and exhibit sick building characteristic. The best way to verify outside air is to hire a certified Test & Balance company, such as Melink, which has the proper air measurement instrumentation and years of experience.

How can I tell if my restaurant is properly ventilated?

  1. Observe restaurant conditions and ask staff for a log of comfort issues
  2. Turn on HVAC equipment, “Fan On” mode
  3. Check the front door for signs of negative building pressure
  4. Observe the kitchen hoods for proper smoke capture
  5. Check the restaurant for drafts
  6. Inspect the rooftop equipment to ensure it is in working condition
  7. Ensure your HVAC preventative maintenance services are being performed satisfactorily
  8. Contact Melink for building balance and comfort investigation services

How can I be sure my building stays healthy, comfortable, and properly ventilated for the long-run?

More and more restaurant chains are interested in the idea of “ongoing commissioning.”  With scant facilities budgets and facilities managers stretched ever thinner, it is not feasible to routinely send someone to each facility to verify building health, ventilation, and comfort. Out of this necessity, Melink’s PositiV® Building Health Monitor was born. PositiV is a standalone system that monitors your building’s pressure and remotely tracks building health. Alerts are sent when the system detects anything is out of set parameters. Moreover, PositiV monitors temperature, relative humidity and CO2 so that you gain a full picture of the health of your facility. 

Melink PositiV Building Health Monitor

PositiV is THE solution toward being able to actively monitor restaurant health, comfort and ventilation for the long-haul, and it is the most affordable way for multi-site facility managers to proactively stay ahead of building health issues before they become big facility problems.

Below is a REAL restaurant’s PositiV data. The site is taking action to improve negative pressure and building ventilation issues before they cause building damage, mold and comfort problems.

Restaurant Ventilation Case Study Example

Ensure Your Restaurant’s Ventilation & Air Quality

For further information restaurant ventilation and PositiV (ongoing commissioning), please e-mail [email protected] or call us at 513.965.7300.

Prevent Sick Buildings: Why Positive Building Pressure Matters

Can a building get sick? I’ll give you the answer up front: Yes, sure, most definitely — a building can get “sick.” You may ponder… “But how can a building become sick? It is an inanimate object. It doesn’t live and breathe like humans!” On the contrary, your building is a living object. The main factor making your building come alive is its people: your customers, employees, and outside partners (think mail delivery or an overnight cleaning crew). Let’s dive into what factors can make a building sick and why maintaining positive building pressure is so important in prevention.

What Makes a Building Come Alive?

First, consider what may make your building come alive (or ultimately “infect” it):

  • Supplies
    The products you bring in (from any point of origin) may have outside contaminants or be perishable. As you know, perishables may emanate odors or fumes.
  • Chemicals
    You must account for chemicals or cleaning supplies in their controlled rooms (where exhaust is extremely important). 
  • Restrooms
    Consider the restroom facilities. Restrooms, especially those open to the general public (i.e. in a lobby area) can encounter high volumes of traffic and behaviors that may not meet sanitary standards. 
  • HVAC System(s)
    Your HVAC system is a key element bringing your building to life. With proper cleaning and maintenance, they are designed to provide comfort on demand. Heating and cooling are crucial amenities that have grown to be a must-have and are mandated by federal and local guidelines. 

When you take all these factors into account, it’s easier to understand how a building can become “sick.”

Sick Building Syndrome symptoms

Facility Managers: How to Prevent Sick Buildings

So how can a facility manager or building owner help to prevent sickness in a facility? As a professional in the HVAC industry, my primary goal is to earn your trust to maintain the wellness of your building’s HVAC system. Think about it — you can’t control others’ actions. There is no way to determine someone’s state of health as they are in your establishment. But you can control the HVAC system and make sure it is properly maintained to be a healthy system!

A little-known fact about HVAC systems that I will stress the importance: FRESH OUTSIDE AIR IS NEEDED TO MAINTAIN A POSITIVE BUILDING PRESSURE AT ALL TIMES. What does this mean, and why is it important?

  1.  Your restaurant, retail store or office building, has many moving parts to bring it alive, has to breathe. Like any living thing, it requires oxygen to replace the carbon dioxide. The equation should result in bringing in a greater amount of fresh air than the carbon dioxide, chemicals, fumes/odors, and cooking effluents that the building creates. When this happens, there should be a slight positive pressure from the inside of your establishment that pushes outward at your doors and drive-thru windows.  A proper HVAC test and balance (TAB) by an NEBB-Certified firm like Melink can help you achieve this goal.  

  2. A common oversight that people make is assuming, “My building is positive. We’re in good shape.” But how sure are they that the lungs of the HVAC system are clean and free of operational damages? Many times, I have encountered damaged and clogged filtration components within an HVAC system that may lead to costly repairs to your equipment and structural damages:
  • Clogged or missing outside air intake filters
  • Clogged, missing or inadequate air filters
  • Clogged evaporator and condenser coils
  • Clogged and inadequate fan blower wheels
  • Mold and mildew
  • Trapped small animals that lead to contaminations
  • Contaminated duct work that eventually shows up on the supply, return and exhaust grilles throughout the establishment 
Checking HVAC ductwork for positive building pressure

All these issues work together to create a sick building.  The opposite of positive pressure is that dreaded negative pressure. Every time your facility’s doors open, all of the outside air conditions are sucked into the building.  These elements can be hot or cold air, humidity, airborne pathogens, and odors. The humidity attaches to the chilled supply diffusers and grilles, creating moisture buildup that drips onto your floors, tables, customers, and clients.

Checking HVAC filters for positive building pressure

Of course, it’s not feasible for a facility manager to know the ins and outs of every HVAC system of every facility he/she manages. So let us do the work for you! Melink Corporation’s T&B technicians can be your eyes and ears to help your facilities maintain positive building pressure. We are an army of application engineers with skilled LEED and NEBB certifications. Our company is nationwide and has more than 30 years of experience. Along with services that will help you on your way to a healthy building, we offer a monitoring system and demand ventilation systems that will alert you when problems or concerns arise.  These services, along with reliable routine maintenance will minimize uninterrupted service to your most important people. We can help you protect your customers, employees, and outside partners from sick buildings.

COVID-19 Closures: Mitigating Damage to Unoccupied Buildings

As states across the U.S. are working to flatten the curve, many businesses are impacted by COVID-19 closures as a result of “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders to limit human interaction and prevent the virus’s spread. Additionally, many companies across the country have opted to temporarily close facilities to prevent employees from contracting the disease. With these shutdowns, it can become increasingly difficult to determine the condition of a facility and repair any issues that could be developing while the facility is unoccupied.

COVID-19 closures of restaurants

Damage to Unoccupied Buildings

Consider these scenarios that could arise in an unoccupied facility…

  • A building in the coastal region may experience high humidity that is going unnoticed, which can in turn lead to mold growth. Imagine if the facility is a retail store; the end-result might mean thousands of dollars of damaged, unsalvageable clothing merchandise.
  • If indoor moisture levels drop too low — perhaps in a cooler climate that is shifting from winter to spring temps — it could lead to wood warping. For instance, the frames of wood windows can shrink in size, making them more difficult to open and potentially creating gaps that let in more cold, dry air.
  • Low indoor moisture can also lead to peeling or separated wallpaper, or cracked paint on plaster walls. What would you do if you come back to your facility, only to realize you need to bring in professional painting or remodeling services?
  • Think about a restaurant or bar. There may be hundreds (or thousands) of dollars of liquor or wine in stock, going untouched through the COVID-19 crisis. Corked bottles of wine are not exempt from the effects of dry indoor air. Extremely low humidity levels can slowly chip away at a cork, leaving room for air to get into the bottle and ruin the flavor. The ideal humidity level for wine storage is 60%.
  • Another thought for a restaurant facility: A humid environment allows mold growth to fester. The COVID-19 shutdowns came on suddenly for many facilities. Did kitchen staff have adequate time to scrub walk-ins, pots, and pans? Were grease traps thoroughly degreased? These are potential breeding grounds for mold during non-occupation.
  • Contemplate multi-purpose facilities, such as an apartment complex with retail or dining space on the first floor. Completely shutting down HVAC airflow to the unoccupied businesses could lead to uneven air flow and temperature throughout the larger building.

The bottom line: Scenarios like the ones above will go unnoticed and unrepaired until employees return to the facility to find the damage caused by an unoccupied month.

Preventing Facility Damage During COVID-19 Closures

While these issues may seem frightful, thankfully many state governments have kept issues like this in mind when mandating shelter-in-place orders. Seeing the value and necessity of essential services, many states are allowing skilled trades such as HVAC technicians to continue working. During quarantine, let these technicians be the eyes and ears at the facility to ensure that, when business returns, critical issues didn’t develop, delaying reopening.

In addition, this downtime can also be the ideal occasion to have technicians visit the facility to address any known issues or to perform preventive maintenance. Maybe there is a repair the facility manager has been putting off because its fix requires closing a typically busy corridor or lobby area. By addressing this work now while the facility is shut down, managers can limit future downtime, employee inconvenience, and lost profit.

And as a preventative measure for the duration of this closure or in preparation of future closures, consider installing sensors to remotely monitor a facility’s indoor air quality levels through relative humidity, temperature, building pressure, and CO2 checks. A system like Melink Corporation’s PositiV® building health monitor can remotely track and trend building health, plus send alerts to the facility owner or manager when the system detects measurements outside its set parameters. While a facility may not have this in place to combat the current COVID-19 closures, it can be installed now to prepare for future unplanned closures or even a vacation (Facility managers need a break at some point, right?!). 

Coronavirus & Indoor Air Quality

Now, maybe more than ever, many businesses are concerned about indoor air quality (IAQ) to protect employees and customers from coronavirus. With the current spread of COVID-19 across the globe, it is important that we are all taking the necessary steps to reduce the spread of the virus. As part of this, it is important to recognize how your HVAC system can impact your IAQ during long hours of social distancing, as well as steps that can be taken to limit the spread of the virus in buildings.

In a normal year, the typical American spends 90% of his or her time indoors. With current guidelines about social distancing, this number is expected to increase over the next few months. Prior to recent events, the American Medical Association stated they believe 50% of illnesses are caused, or aggravated, by polluted indoor air. Furthermore, per the EPA, indoor air contains two to five times more pollutants than typical outside air.

Coronavirus
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

So what does this mean for the COVID-19 crisis? Now that we have learned the novel coronavirus can be spread via airborne transmission when in close contact, there is the possibility that the HVAC system could cross-contaminate. That means air from an infected person could recirculate through a facility’s HVAC system and infect another individual. An example of this is how cruise ships experienced severe outbreaks. All cabins share an HVAC system, which is working as a mode of transmission from one individual to another.

While this risk of shared indoor air cannot be completely eliminated, there are a few items that can be addressed to reduce the potential for transmission through the HVAC system including:

  • Enhanced Ventilation & Ventilation Effectiveness
  • Source Separation
  • Air Filtration
  • Operable Windows

First and foremost, facilities should ensure their HVAC equipment is bringing in the correct amount of outside air required by the engineered designed plans, as well as managing the pollution and exhaust from your building properly. To further mitigate this risk, one should attempt to increase the percentage of outside air being brought into a facility to a higher percentage than minimally specified. In doing this, the equipment will reduce the amount of air being recirculated through a building. This will not only reduce “shared air,” but will also decrease levels of CO2 and other indoor air pollutants that can create an uncomfortable, or unhealthy, facility.

For a residential facility, where air source isn’t as easily controlled, it can also be helpful to open windows to bring in fresh air to any given room. In addition, it is worth verifying that any fresh air being brought in is being evenly distributed. If it isn’t, certain rooms may have less air turnover, meaning that the air isn’t circulating in and out of the facility properly.

The next few months may be difficult with longer hours than normal spent indoors. It is important that we are all taking steps to minimize the spread of coronavirus and other airborne illnesses both now and in the future. Melink offers products and services specifically designed to track, trend, and improve indoor air quality. Click to learn more about our HVAC test and balance services or PositiV® building health monitor, or contact us today. Our techs are the certified pros in indoor air quality — let us help you mitigate your risk while protecting employee and customer wellness.

How Do Seasonal Changes Affect Building Health?

As we transition from dry, cool winter months to hot, humid summer months, you may be saying to yourself, “Woohoo! Bring on the heat!” However, seasonal changes can affect building health. Specifically, the summer season can present major problems for facility managers and building owners as their buildings’ HVAC systems struggle to keep up with increasing cooling loads and extremely humid outdoor air.

Just as spring plant life sprouts, HVAC mechanical issues can pop up with warmer temperatures. Poor indoor conditions such as high indoor relative humidity, negative building pressure, CO2 buildup, or drastic temperature fluctuations are just a few examples.

Staying ahead of these issues before they become noticeable, costly problems is crucial when considering the overall health of your building and its HVAC systems.

Humidity: A Common Seasonal Issue

At various facilities, a common issue that comes with changing seasons is humidity. Specifically, humidity can be difficult to maintain at a comfortable level.

Condensation on building window, a seasonal building health issue.
Condensation in office building

In the winter, the heating mode on air handling equipment can heat or evaporate the existing moisture in the air to reduce the overall relative humidity as outdoor air is brought into the building. However, in the summer, the opposite occurs: the air handling equipment cools the building space and doesn’t heat or evaporate the moisture out of incoming air. This combination of high relative humidity and indoor dew point ultimately creates conditions that promote condensation or organic growth within the facility.

A Year-Round Solution for Indoor Building Health

The most cost-effective solution to verifying and ensuring long-term indoor building health is with a sensor capable of measuring key building health metrics like differential pressure, relative humidity, dew point, temperature, and CO2.

Components of building health

By gathering data on these building health metrics, the facility manager, operator, and/or building owner can quickly verify on-site conditions in real-time, while also gaining peace of mind in knowing their buildings are meeting engineering specifications per design as seasons change. In addition to these benefits, sensors’ data gathering gives users the ability to track and trend building health over a long-term period.

Using Data to Plan for Seasonal Building Health Changes

Getting and staying ahead of maintenance doesn’t need to start with expensive truck rolls and frequent site visits. Instead, sensor solutions provide an inexpensive, effective avenue to implement a proactive mindset. The collected data can be aggregated to an easy-to-use online portal capable of summarizing, visualizing, and diagnosing issues on site, while also granting users the ability to trend and predict HVAC performance for a lasting solution.

Get ahead of the changing seasons by verifying your building is healthy today!

How Indoor Air Quality Influences Wellness

Indoor air quality (IAQ) can influence the cold/flu season. According to the American Medical Association, 50% of illnesses are caused or aggravated by polluted indoor air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes this is because indoor air contains two to five times more pollutants compared to typical outside air.

While the average person spends 90% of their time indoors, many groups of people considered to be “high risk” spend even more time indoors. These populations include but are not limited to babies, the elderly, and those with health conditions. So when you consider the ample amount of time people are spending indoors with potentially polluted air, it is easy to understand how IAQ can be linked to sickness. In fact, IAQ poses such a large risk to human health globally that the EPA recognizes it as one of its top 5 health hazards.

Sick building showing indoor air quality

While most people think that poor IAQ is easily noticeable because they can sense it through vision or smell, this is not normally the case. Many times, the IAQ in a facility may be poor because the CO2 level is far higher than recommended. Typically, a “safe” level of CO2 is between 400-1,000ppm, but levels can reach as high as 2,000ppm. At this high level, occupants can experience headaches, sleepiness, decreased cognitive function, and increased heart rates.

To ensure that CO2 levels are kept in check, it is best to have a building health monitor (such as PositiV) installed to examine these levels. If the CO2 level is above the 1,000ppm mark, it is best to examine the outside air intake on the air conditioning equipment to ensure the facility is receiving the proper air changes per hour and enough fresh air is entering the facility.