Will Healthy Buildings Stick?

The outside view of a modern office building.

At Conexus, we believe our purpose is to transform environments to optimize comfort, safety, and efficiency. The comfort and efficiency aspects of our building automation solutions are easy to wrap your head around. Our teams install systems that keep your spaces comfortable in an energy-efficient manner.

A work, teaching, or healing environment that is at the right temperature and humidity provides a long list of benefits. It reduces absenteeism, improves productivity, fosters better learning, and increases healthcare outcomes. There are aspects of safety in several of these outcomes, but safety has always been the black sheep of our purpose statement. That’s until COVID-19 hit.

COVID-19 Impact

Like many of you, we at Conexus are concerned and curious about the long-term impacts of COVID-19. How will our markets change? What will our customers need in the long-term? We have been surprised how some of our market segments that we thought would have been negatively impacted have instead, continued to grow. In general, there does not seem to be a COVID-related slow down in opportunities in any market segments we serve (the pace at which the projects progress due to labor issues and supply chain challenges is another story). What we have concluded is that more and more of our customers realize that our solutions are central to maintaining a healthy, safe facility for their occupants.

We know our customers rely upon Conexus to provide them with state-of-the-art building automation technologies that work. For the most part, the word “work” refers more to our discipline of fully commissioning each system, turning over an operating solution that we know works properly from day one. However, with some of the new technologies under consideration to address COVID concerns, “work” now has a different meaning. Will the technology be effective in keeping our customer’s environments safe? Generally, we rely upon the guidance of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to determine good practices for our industry. ASHRAE has been evaluating some of the technologies promoted for dealing with COVID in the built environment. Technologies such as ultraviolet light (UV), high-efficiency particulate filtering (HEPA), and ionization (BPI) have all been introduced as tools to help remove COVID, and other contaminants, from indoor environments.   

ASHRAE has been measured in their guidance for any recommendations other than ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning. The air-cleaning element is where some of the new technologies come into play and where ASHRAE has been particularly cautious. Many of these technologies are still experimental regarding air cleaning. There are questions, for example with ionization, whether the levels of ionization necessary to effectively neutralize airborne viruses may result in other harmful byproducts. ASHRAE is not saying these technologies shouldn’t be deployed, just to use technologies “for which evidence of effectiveness and safety is clear”.  Once determined to be safe and effective, these technologies require specific skills to size, install and integrate into existing HVAC systems.   System integrators like Conexus possess the talents necessary to implement these technologies.

The Future

We do believe that our customers will want a better way to know whether their built environment is safe, efficient, and comfortable. We already have systems for operating suites to measure temperature, humidity, and pressure to ensure the suite is safe. Our solutions for another customer ensure that priceless artifacts are kept in a safe environment that prolongs the life of the artifacts. We are evaluating technologies to measure several factors (temperature, humidity, volatile organic compounds, etc.) to score the health of the indoor environment. This allows any interested stakeholder to easily gauge the health of the space in which they, or someone they care about, will enter. We are excited to evaluate and implement these new technologies that will help us increase the leverage of “safety” as a part of our purpose to optimize comfort, safety, and efficiency.

Please reach out to us if you want to learn more.  Together, we can learn more about these technologies and if it’s important to you, it’s important to us.

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