BMI Mechanical Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
BMI Mechanical Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
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coffee shop owners working with face masks bmi mechanical ventilation
▸ October 6, 2020

When it comes to COVID-19 reopening, California businesses and establishments are all over the place. You might be fully open, operating at partial capacity, operating outdoors or online only, or completely closed. No matter what your situation is, however, one thing is for certain: 

Your building should be working to integrate new procedures and equipment that limits COVID-19 spread and creates a safer environment for all building occupants.

While limiting the spread of various germs and harmful particles is nothing new for businesses, limiting the spread of COVID-19 is new. Let’s quickly cover the COVID-19 reopening guidelines for critical building systems and provide some insight on how to best combat the spread of this particular virus through your indoor ventilation system.

Official COVID-19 Reopening Strategies + Resources

For official reports and guidance on reopening during the COVID-19 epidemic, we recommend reviewing the documentation and resources provided by ASHRAE and the CDC

Each organization has released a series of handbooks, strategies, and training related to COVID-19. You can find information on the CDC guidelines for reopening schools in 2020, COVID-19 transmission data, COVID-19 workplace guidelines, and more.

According to the CDC, the primary strategy for reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace includes the following tasks:

  • Conducting daily health checks
  • Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
  • Encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
  • Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace
  • Improving the building ventilation system

When it comes to improving your building’s ventilation system specifically, we have decades of combined and critical first-hand experience. Over the years, we’ve adopted and fine-tuned strategies to mitigate the potential risk your HVAC system could play in the spread of viruses such as COVID-19. 

When dealing with a virus of this nature, there are a variety of factors and COVID-19 protocols to consider when evaluating your mechanical system and implementing improvements. This is why it is recommended by both ASHRAE and the CDC to work closely with a partner like BMI Mechanical in order to mitigate risk both now and in the future.

How to Improve your Building Ventilation System

To prepare for improvements to your indoor ventilation system, we begin with ECiP (Epidemic Conditions in Place) Guidelines. These guidelines are recommended in some form or fashion by both the CDC and ASHRAE. They are as follows:

Building Evaluation & Mitigation Report

This is an evaluation of key metrics that allow us to determine the current state of your system. During this phase, we will need to gather and review any and all documents, designs, service contracts, logs, reports, and manuals. On top of this, we will conduct a thorough inspection of your system, combine it with all relevant data and material collected, and create a full picture of what’s going on with your mechanical system. This will include any gaps, deficiencies, and recommendations.

Increased Ventilation & Increased Filtration

Next up, we will make the necessary changes to increase ventilation and filtration in your space. This involves measuring and tweaking the outside air ratio. It is recommended to have 10%-20% outside air; however, this will vary depending on your particular equipment, building, and day-to-day operations. 

We will also examine and explore your options related to your filtration needs. We recommend using a filter with a MERV rating of 6-8; however, this can vary, as well. Technically speaking, your filter can have a MERV rating anywhere between 1 and 16. A higher rating means that your filter can effectively capture smaller particles. This higher rating also means a restrictive air flow and added stress on your equipment. We can help you identify and implement which MERV rating is appropriate for your situation. 

“Unoccupied” System Operation

Another crucial step is to analyze and make the necessary adjustments to your “unoccupied” settings. This is done to maintain the integrity and functionality of your equipment since extended periods of inactivity can have a lasting negative impact on your system.

We will create an unoccupied system setting and provide you with override capabilities (if necessary) to encourage flexibility and customization.

Additional COVID-19 Guidelines to Follow

  1. Prior to reopening, run your AC system for at least two full hours with the doors and windows open. 
  2. Upon completion, shut all doors and windows and run your system in standard occupied mode for 24 hours.
  3. Conduct a full operational test and inspection of your equipment. This will ensure everything runs smoothly when guests and employees are permitted back inside your building (ensuring continued safety and health in the process).
  4. Every day, conduct an air flush before the building is open for guests and employees. This can be done by running the system in occupied mode for at least two hours.

Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization Reduces COVID-19 Spread

Following COVID-19 reopening guidelines is just one piece of the puzzle. We also want to implement new technologies that clean and disinfect the air in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

To do this, we rely on a technology known as Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (NPBI). NPBI modules are installed onto your existing HVAC units. These modules work to neutralize odors, kill pathogens, and reduce particles in the air without adding harmful by-products into the space. 

Unlike passive technologies such as UV Lighting and higher rated filters, NPBI leverages cold plasma to create electrically charged oxygen ions. These ions go into your air supply to seek out and destroy harmful particles. 

NPBI is recommended by both ASHRAE and the CDC and can provide lasting benefits for your organization. Even if (or when) a COVID-19 vaccine is found, NPBI can help with allergies, odors, and the flu season.

BMI Mechanical is here to help you reopen safely

Our team at BMI Mechanical is here to help you create a safer environment for your guests and employees. We want to make sure your mechanical system has what it takes to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep your space clean for all those inside it.
If you need help understanding and following COVID-19 reopening guidelines for your ventilation and filtration system, give us a call today or fill out our online contact form. We’d love to help you reopen safely.

abstract wave of red glitter particles dust animation
▸ October 2, 2020

With businesses preparing to safely reopen their doors for guests and employees, more and more business owners and managers are left wondering: Can HVAC technology help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and if so, what technology is the most effective?

Luckily, there is HVAC technology that can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 indoors and limit the potential for exposure in the process. However, before we discuss those technologies, it’s important to remember that your HVAC system can only do so much. It is still critical to practice all COVID-19 reopening guidelines and measures recommended by the CDC, ASHRAE, and your HVAC partner.

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways you can reduce the spread of COVID-19 through your HVAC system.

Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (NPBI)

We thought it best to kick things off with our go-to method of reducing COVID-19 spread in the workplace and public buildings. Known as Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (or NPBI), this HVAC technology cleans and disinfects the air by sending electrically-charged ions into the air. Upon being released, these ions get to work — neutralizing odors, killing pathogens, and reducing unwanted particles in the air.

NPBI both attaches to and attacks any living particle in the air. The released ions can pull Hydrogen atoms out of cells, killing the microorganism in the process. At the same time, it increases the size of the particles, allowing your existing filter to effectively capture them.

NPBI can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by 99.4% in 30 minutes. 

MERV 13 Air Filters

A MERV 13 air filter won’t be able to get the job done like NPBI can. But as far as HVAC technologies are concerned, this is often considered the next best thing against the COVID-19 fight.

That being said, it doesn’t put up much of a fight.

Most HVAC systems are not equipped to handle a MERV 13 air filter, and they are significantly more expensive to replace and maintain. With NPBI, you only have to worry about the one-time fee of purchase and installation, and it should have no negative impact on your pre-existing HVAC system.

To make matters worse, the COVID-19 virus is only 0.125 micron in size. MERV 13 filters capture roughly 50% of particles between the size of 0.3 micron and 1 micron. The only way your MERV 13 filter will capture the COVID-19 virus is if it’s attached to a larger particle. 

In other words, it won’t get the job done well enough. 

This is why we rely on NPBI technology. You need a technology that actively seeks out and destroys the COVID-19 virus. You can’t rely on a passive technology such as a MERV 13 air filter.

UV Lighting Kits

Generally speaking, UV light is an effective method of disabling and killing pathogens. However, there are certain parameters that must be met before this can happen. The UV light has to be at the right level for the right amount of time for any pathogen-killing to occur. This is often easier said than done since the bulb itself can lose efficacy over time (which means… it won’t be at the right level 100% of the time). 

While routine maintenance is an option, it’s costly and certainly not a foolproof way of ensuring pathogens are being stopped. (Did we mention that NPBI requires no routine maintenance?)

To top things off, UV light has a tendency to degrade the interior of HVAC systems (everything from wiring to duct lining to filter media). This only adds up to more maintenance, more money, and more problems down the line. 

Long story short, when it comes to airborne transmission of viruses like COVID-19, NPBI trumps UV lighting kits.

BMI Mechanical is here to help!

If you need help installing and maintaining a new HVAC technology to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your building, we can help.

We have decades of combined experience helping companies all over California improve indoor air quality and as a result, create a safer space for their guests and employees.
Give us a call today or fill out our online contact form to learn more.

▸ July 2, 2014

By Luis Hernandez BMI Mechanical Chief Operating Officer Dax Brott said he was genuinely excited when the Tulare-based, family-owned company won the California Family Business of the Year award given out by the Institute for Family Business. Read More ▸

▸ April 25, 2014

By Gabriel Dillard It was a reunion of sorts for Tulare County’s own “Flying Burrito Brothers” amateur volleyball team at the 25th annual California Family Business Award dinner last night in Fresno. Read More ▸

▸ July 14, 2012

By Donna-Marie Sonnichsen An outpouring of support from throughout the county to a local museum has shown once more the heart the people of Tulare County have. Read More ▸

Factoid

Energy constitutes 63% of a facility’s total HVAC owning & operating costs. Linc

When the service professionals at BMI Mechanical focus on what they do best, we are able to focus on what we do best. For over 6 years Patterson Logistics Services has trusted the folks at BMI to keep our building temperatures within the desired range. In today’s business world we need to partner with companies like BMI whose tradition is built on honesty and integrity. BMI, thank you for taking care of business! Cesar Lopez PLSI Western Distribution Center Manager Patterson Logistics Services

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