BMI Mechanical Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
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If you’re wondering how to improve indoor air quality, then you’ve come to the right place. Having good indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important facet of managing your business. With good IAQ, your employees will be more comfortable and more productive. You should also experience fewer HVAC issues since your equipment will be better maintained in the process of achieving and maintaining that good indoor air quality.

However, to achieve better indoor air quality, you need to test and measure your current and ongoing IAQ. The following content outlines when and how to do this and what results you can expect along the way.

How should you test your indoor air quality?

When it comes to testing your indoor air quality, the best possible advice we can give you is to make sure you work with someone who understands exactly when and how to test IAQ. If you don’t work with someone knowledgeable, then you won’t actually know if what you’re doing is or isn’t working and you won’t be able to quantify any type of ROI.

On top of this, measuring IAQ requires specific equipment and testing resources that you likely won’t have available to you. While some testing (ex. CO2 levels, particulate counts) can be handled on-site by an HVAC contractor, other testing (ex. pathogens, mold) will require samples to be collected and sent off to a laboratory.

In most cases, you can reach out to your current HVAC service provider. They should already have in-depth experience with your HVAC and its history, and if your HVAC requires additional speciality testing, they can connect you with a company that’s capable of providing that service.

If you don’t have a current HVAC provider, you should seek out an HVAC contractor that specializes in commercial buildings. 

When should you test your indoor air quality?

  • Before & After: It’s important to test your IAQ before you begin any improvements with your HVAC system and at regular intervals during the improvement process. This will help you target and address specific problems such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds), odors, mold, and high particulate counts.
  • During Preventative Maintenance: If you’re on a preventative maintenance program with an HVAC company, then make sure they’re testing your IAQ as part of your contract. IAQ should be tested when reviewing filter condition, outside air ratios, and more.
  • Annually: Depending on your building, you may be required to test and measure your IAQ on an annual basis (or sometimes more). For example, healthcare facilities are required to test and record Air Changes per Hour (ACH) at least once a year.

How to improve indoor air quality?

If you want to improve your indoor air quality, that’s a great business goal. Better indoor air quality can only do good things for you, your employees, and your guests. However, there are a variety of methods and techniques HVAC professionals use to achieve and maintain good indoor air quality. 

  • Proper filtration: It’s important to make sure you have the proper filtration system set up for your business and the system you have in place (keep in mind, not all systems can handle all filtration solutions — the wrong one can do damage). While MERV filters are currently the most popular option, some situations necessitate specialized solutions such as bag filters, carbon filters, or HEPA filtration.
  • Ventilation: A professional HVAC contractor can adjust outside air rates and assist with program controls and thermostats to maintain proper ventilation in your building. (Learn more about ventilation and COVID-19.)
  • Preventive Maintenance: As we mentioned earlier, the proper preventative maintenance can keep your equipment clean and allow your HVAC contractor to identify IAQ concerns before they have the chance to cause major issues.
  • Modern Technology: There are a variety of modern technologies HVAC professionals use to improve and maintain indoor air quality. These can include UV lighting, needlepoint bipolar ionization, and hydrogen peroxide. With some of these options, slight adjustments to how you operate your HVAC system are required. Because of this, it’s important to consult with a professional contractor during the selection and installation process.

Need help improving your IAC?

At BMI Mechanical, we have in-depth experience helping our clients improve and maintain their indoor air quality. We’ve helped companies deal with everything from seasonal allergies to COVID-19. If you’d like more information on how we can help you combat poor indoor air quality, send us a message today. We’d love to talk.

indoor office environment

What is indoor air quality and why is it important? According to ASHRAE:

“Good IAQ (indoor air quality) is achieved by providing air in occupied spaces in which there are no known or expected contaminants at concentrations likely to be harmful and no conditions that are likely to be associated with occupant health or comfort complaints and air with which virtually no occupants express dissatisfaction.”

In other words, IAQ can impact the health and comfort of building occupants. The lower the IAQ, the more issues you can expect to encounter. These issues can include everything from mechanical system repairs and productivity losses to legal expenses and negative publicity.

This being said, it’s important to take steps to improve and maintain your indoor air quality. Here’s what you need to know about what affects indoor air quality and how to improve it.

What factors impact indoor air quality?

There are a variety of everyday situations that can negatively impact indoor air quality. These situations include but are not limited to:

  • Seasonal contaminants: When the outside temperatures increase, humidity tends to increase, as well. This can lead to pollen, mold, and dust creeping indoors (especially true during harvest season). This is different from colder months… when dry air tends to lead to an increase in the cold and flu.
  • Regional contaminants: Geographical environmental issues such as smog and smoke from wildfires can also negatively impact IAQ.
  • On-site conditions: Manufacturing and other processes handled on-site can result in harmful fumes or odors.
  • Inadequate ventilation: Poorly ventilated buildings can result in the build-up of CO2. High levels of CO2 can actually result in nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. In extreme cases, CO2 build-up can result in the loss of consciousness.
  • Other indoor air contaminants: Other issues that can lead to inadequate indoor air quality can include a dirty HVAC system, cleaning material, maintenance processes, human activities (ex. smoking, body odor, etc), dirty/dusty areas, pesticides, water damage, and more.

All of these situations can create less than ideal working conditions for building occupants. Not only can it result in the loss of productivity and an increase in sick days, but it can have an impact on the health and safety of your occupants, as well. In the process, your business will suffer financially.

Using MERV filtration to improve IAQ

There are a handful of ways to improve indoor air quality. One of the most popular methods right now is leveraging MERV (minimum efficiency reporting values) filtration, which refers to the smallest particle size a filter can effectively capture. 

The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particle the filter can capture; however, not all equipment is capable of handling a high MERV rating. This is important to remember since MERV 7-8 is a standard for typical commercial and industrial facilities — yet, MERV 13 is recommended for COVID protection.

In most cases, you can’t just replace your standard filter with a high-rated MERV filter. This is especially true if your filter may be contaminated with viruses or other harmful particles. You should work with a licensed HVAC professional who can fit and seal your system for the MERV filter and safely remove your old filter. 

Other ways to improve indoor air quality

Aside from relying on MERV filtration, there are other ways we rely on to improve the indoor air quality for our clients. These methods can include:

  • Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization: NPBI is a technology designed to attack unwanted particles in the air — including everything from smoke and viruses to mold and dander.
  • Spring HVAC Maintenance: Routine cleaning and maintenance to the most crucial components of your HVAC system can help your building avoid the unnecessary build-up of dust, debris, and more and help you keep your system functional in the process.
  • Summer HVAC Prep: When hotter months are on the horizon, it’s important to make sure your HVAC system can handle the increase in temperature and avoid IAQ issues that stem from increased humidity.
  • Green Building Trends: Modern green building trends include technology and measures that make it easier and more manageable to improve indoor air quality.
  • Proactive Maintenance: A licensed HVAC professional can provide regular maintenance and upkeep for your HVAC system, keeping it clean and functional in the process.

Need help improving your IAQ?

At BMI Mechanical, we have decades of combined experience providing preventative maintenance for companies all across California. Our technicians and associates know what it takes to create, customize, and implement a proactive solution that improves and maintains indoor air. 
If you want to learn more about how this process works, send us a message today.

ventilation system pipes bmi mechanical
▸ March 23, 2021

What is needlepoint bipolar ionization and how can this innovative technology help your business with spring cleaning this year?

First and foremost, needlepoint bipolar ionization (NPBI) works wonders when it comes to the spread of COVID-19. Beyond COVID-19, however, NPBI can also neutralize indoor odors, kill pathogens, and reduce unwanted particles in the air.

To further explain the benefits of needlepoint bipolar ionization, let’s take a few moments to cover how this technology works and why your business should invest in NPBI in 2021.

What is needlepoint bipolar ionization?

NPBI is a technology designed to attack unwanted particles in the air. To do this, a device is installed into your pre-existing HVAC system. This device produces and distributes oxygen ions into the air. These ions then attach to particles, causing them to become larger in the process. Due to their larger size, they’ll now get caught in your filtration system.

In addition, NPBI actively kills microorganisms right from the air. The charged ions attach and damage cell walls, which kills or disables harmful pathogens such as mold, bacteria, and viruses (including COVID-19). 

Long story short, NPBI gives your existing HVAC system the ability to kill, capture, and eliminate harmful particles from your indoor air – something you standalone filter would not be able to do.

What can needlepoint bipolar ionization clean?

  • bacteria
  • smoke
  • pollen
  • dust
  • dander
  • pollutants
  • viruses
  • mold

Keep Reading: Your COVID-19 Reopening Guide

Facts you should know about NPBI technology

You can use your pre-existing HVAC system

As we mentioned earlier, a NPBI air purification device can be installed directly into your pre-existing HVAC device. This means you don’t have to worry about finding and installing a brand new HVAC system just to accommodate a NPBI device. 

Keep Reading: When to Install a New HVAC System

You can reuse your NPBI device

To top things off, a NBPI device can be removed and reinstalled into new HVAC units. So, let’s say you decide to upgrade your HVAC system or you move to a new building in the future — your NPBI device can be taken off your old unit and easily affixed onto your new unit.  

NPBI works similar to MERV 13 filters

MERV13 filters are high-efficiency filters that are recommended by ASHRAE and the CDC when it comes to COVID-19 protection. However, the majority of smaller package systems cannot handle MERV13 filters. NPBI is a great alternative since it gives you the same level of protection as MERV13 filters would provide — but can be accommodated by many different types of systems. 

NPBI also eliminates odors.

As an added benefit of NPBI technology, you can enjoy odor-free spaces. Needlepoint bipolar ionization devices can neutralize and remove indoor odors and leave your space smelling all-around fresher.

Keep Reading; 3 HVAC Technology Trends to Watch for in 2021

How to get started with needlepoint bipolar ionization

Results from the original needlepoint bipolar ionization manufacturer show that NPBI technology can reduce the virus that causes COVID-19 by 98.33% within 60 minutes (learn more about needlepoint bipolar ionization studies). Our customers, in particular, report experiencing fewer incidents of COVID-19 transmission and have significantly fewer complaints regarding seasonal allergies.

All in all, our customers consider NPBI to be a wise investment not just to halt the transmission of COVID-19 but to keep their employees and guests more comfortable and healthy in general.

If you’d like to learn more about NPBI and how your business can get started, give us a call or fill out our online contact form. We’d love to talk.

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.

Factoid

Employee productivity can be improved 1.5-6% in an average commercial building just by addressing indoor comfort and air quality. National Energy Management Institute

For nearly 19 years BMI has supplied services to Laurelglen Bible Church under an annual maintenance contract. Our experience with BMI has always been exceptional. Your staff is professional and always available to meet our needs in a timely manner. The maintenance contract has taken ‘the risk out’ of servicing and repairing our HVAC units. John F. Penrose Senior Administrator Laurelglen Bible Church

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