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September 12, 2012 -
Sometimes a facility's HVAC system has remained largely untouched since it was installed 30 years ago. To help ensure the quality of the facility's indoor air, newer mechanicals might be a big help. But there's a lot you can do by making sure vintage mechanicals are not being operated under equally vintage policies.
First, review current energy conservation programs. Many energy conservation programs were started before concern over IAQ arose. One practice, indiscriminately closing outside air dampers, should be discontinued immediately.
In addition, the benefits garnered from energy-saving measures such as duty cycling, load shedding, raising chilled water temperatures and reducing hot water temperatures, should be evaluated in light of their effects on the indoor air environment.
Continuously document the operation of the HVAC system. Because the HVAC system acts as the lungs of the building, it is important to verify and document its operation periodically. Often HVAC system and component technology can assist in accomplishing this goal. For example, with air flow monitoring technology, it is possible to track the amount of outdoor air delivered down to each zone.
Also, develop an ongoing training program for building personnel. System operators and building managers need to be kept up to date on proper IAQ and their IAQ responsibilities. Trade journals, books, seminars and consultation with IAQ professionals are good starting points.
And last, don't be afraid to publicize proactive IAQ efforts to building occupants and potential tenants. A building's good IAQ is a market asset. Creating a newsletter, tweeting or updating the department's Facebook page to inform occupants and potential tenants on the latest IAQ developments and your building's IAQ program are some ways to capitalize on this asset.