Embracing Air Cleaning and Purification Devices for Healthier Commercial Buildings

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Air quality is a significant determinant of indoor environmental quality in commercial buildings. With people spending about 90% of their time indoors, the air they breathe inside these structures significantly affects their health and productivity. Air cleaning and purification devices play an essential role in improving indoor air quality, minimizing pollutants, and creating healthier indoor spaces.

The WELL Building Standard, a tool for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of buildings that impact occupant health, provides specific requirements for air cleaning and purification devices. This blog post discusses these devices in line with the WELL guidelines.

Key Requirements for Air Cleaning and Purification Devices

According to the WELL standard, all occupiable spaces with recirculated air should be treated with air purification/cleaning systems. These could either be part of the HVAC system or standalone devices. Here are the key requirements:

  1. They should utilize at least two of the following air purification/cleaning technologies:
    • Activated carbon filter
    • Media filter with an average removal efficiency of ≥75% for particles 0.3-1 μm in size (e.g., MERV 14 or F8)
    • UVGI (Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation) to treat moving air or upper-room UVGI.
  2. They should either be validated under UL 2998 Zero Ozone Emissions Validation or Intertek Zero Ozone Verification or not use electronic air cleaners.
  3. They should not be designed to release ions, reactants, or other molecules into occupiable spaces to disinfect or clean the air.
  4. They should be appropriately sized to the room volume or area, based on manufacturer specifications.
  5. They should be maintained as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Documentation of maintenance should be submitted annually through the WELL digital platform.

Air Cleaning and Purification Technologies

Here’s a table detailing some commonly used air purification/cleaning technologies:

Activated Carbon FilterThese filters use a bed of activated carbon to remove pollutants and odors from the air. The carbon is “activated” with positive charges, which attract pollutants.
Media Filter (e.g., MERV 14 or F8)Media filters use fine sieves to filter particles from the air. They can be used in HVAC systems or standalone air purifiers.
UVGI (Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation)UVGI devices use UV light to kill or inactivate microorganisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA.

The selection of air cleaning and purification technologies should be based on the specific needs and conditions of your building. Regular inspection and maintenance of these systems are crucial to ensure their efficiency and longevity.

In conclusion, air cleaning and purification devices are a vital component of a comprehensive strategy for maintaining and improving indoor air quality. Following WELL’s requirements can guide you towards a healthier, more breathable indoor environment in your commercial building.

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