Achieving energy efficiency is a top priority for building engineers, property managers and business owners across the country. The biggest consumer of energy in a commercial building is the HVAC system.
Modern design and construction practices seal heated and cooled air indoors for the purpose of lowering energy costs. The unfortunate result is poor indoor air quality. Without adequate ventilation, mold spores, VOCs and other unwanted contaminants build up inside — and that leads to serious health problems.
The indoor air quality problem is so severe that the Environment Protection Agency named it one of the nation’s top five health threats. ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers, developed guidelines on the minimum amounts of outdoor air that must be mechanically introduced into a building. In some cases, just following these basic guidelines could result in a 5 to 7 percent increase in a building’s total energy bill.
In addition to the indoor air quality problem, engineers discovered that simply following the ASHRAE guidelines often doesn’t provide enough fresh air to combat staleness and lingering smells. Buildings often bring in more fresh air than required by ASHRAE simply to remove odors — and that means owners are pouring thousands of dollars through the exhaust vent. Those who want to keep energy costs down need a new way improve energy efficiency — without damaging indoor air quality.