BlogApr 8, 2021

Indoor Air Quality, Benchmarking and COVID-19

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The New Normal

In the wake of one of the century’s most impactful health scares in COVID-19, the commercial world slowly begins to return to normal. And yet, for so many businesses, it is a new normal: many firms are reevaluating their work environments by embracing remote work structures and hybrid models. Some are putting pen to paper on broader safety measures for staff or adjusting their financial outlook to be better prepared for the next major crisis.

As many businesses go back to work in offices across the country, a standard that has often hid in the background of HVAC effectiveness has now jumped to the forefront: Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). On the heels of a pandemic, building owners and managers now find it extremely difficult to attract people and organizations back into their spaces. And occupancy, which predictably dipped low at the height of the pandemic and the social distancing mandates it brought, may never return to “normal.” A key concern is the quality of air that flows throughout a building – and regardless of whether anyone experiences another pandemic close to the scale of COVID-19, the fact of the matter is: IAQ matters right now. And it matters a lot.

Indoor Air Quality and Energy

Given all of this, now is the perfect time to benchmark energy use. Tumultuous times are ahead. As businesses begin to invest in Building Automation Systems and adjust their HVAC activity to optimize their IAQ, energy use can drastically change. This is especially true as measures to address IAQ must be taken swiftly, on the fly, and often without consideration of the energy expenditure of such measures:

  • Air distribution patterns will change, as flow rates are adjusted
  • Temperature and humidity will be monitored and adjusted to create a more unsuitable environment for microorganisms to thrive
  • Additions to equipment, such as UVGI lights and Bipolar ionization tools will contribute to overall building energy expenditure.
  • Ventilation will be boosted as well, as HVAC systems may expend more at the front and back end of occupied times

As building owners go about the busy work of attracting tenants back into their spaces, now is not the time to get bogged down in worrying about the ROI of such new IAQ measures. In spite of the extra demands to cater to IAQ, businesses must still keep their energy costs under control and on budget. An effective way to measure energy use and have peace of mind is to benchmark building energy performance, so as to have an accurate picture of a building’s energy health before diving into new procedures.

Benchmarking Made Easy

One way to do this is with EnergyPrint. EnergyPrint will benchmark a building’s energy consumption and cost over time, going back as far as two years to collect data. Via the EnergyPrint dashboard, this data can be visualized to understand the cost impact and ROI of energy projects, including those that building owners will now be wading into to reassure their tenants of Indoor Air Quality.

To take a look at the dashboard, you can explore it right now in a free demo.

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