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Concepts in Healthy HVAC

Many people think of energy-efficient savings first when planning to meet ENERGYSTAR®, LEED, or Passive House Institute standards and consider health benefits an added extra. However, as we said in a recent article on The International WELL Building Institute’s WELL Building Standard, buildings without superior ventilation contribute to sluggish performance, less astute thinking, and more sick days.

Practical Application of a BPE ERV:

Since BPE ERVs are modular, they can be stacked to produce fresh air requirements ups to 20,000 cfm. Such modules are man-portable, will fit through a 36-inch door, and can be assembled by two men in four hours.

Go Big or Go Home

Depending on the publication or organization you consult, our atmosphere has sucked up enough energy-related emissions to bring us near, at, or past a point of no return where rising sea levels, heightened temperatures, and poor air quality wreak havoc on everything from weather to life itself.

New Kid on the Block!

Building Performance Equipment, Inc. welcomes the newest addition to its family of Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs)–and it’s a rather special little guy. Like its bigger brothers, the BPE-XE-MIR-200-i is an ultra-energy-efficient unit that sports a counter-flow heat exchanger design with less than 1% mixing of air streams. Ultra-as in 80% to 98% thermal efficiency with an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 60 to 160. (Most ERVs in the industry typically come in at 45% to 65% thermal efficiency, rarely surpassing an EER of 10.) The new unit works much like the rest of the multi-patented line as it preconditions incoming air to room temperature. In other words, it efficiently recovers energy from stale air leaving the building and uses it to warm room temperature in colder months and cool it during the warmer months. In fact, BPE ERVs are so efficient that they, depending on the situation, can actually reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental HVAC. That efficiency can also reduce energy bills and our impact on the environment. In fact, it is LEED approved and ideal for Passive House design as well as conventional.

Seeing is Believing

When school buildings choose clean energy retrofits, many of the benefits are obvious. Others not so much. Improved Indoor Air Quality does more than provide healthier learning environments: Public schools rely on average daily attendance rates to receive federal funding, so the potential for less student and staff sick days is important.

Net-Zero Buildings

Rarely, can you call someone or something ‘passive’ and have it come off as a compliment. Inactivity, especially in today’s society, comes off as just plain lazy in most circles. Oddly enough, adopting passive methods to power our homes just
might ignite the fastest, most powerful sprint toward a net-zero building stock. Passive energy practices cut back on energy use by 80%, ease harmful emissions, reduce reliance on the grid, save heaps of money, and offer the population far healthier indoor air quality (IAQ).

BPE ‘Clean Displacement’ Ventilation

When it comes to comfortable, healthy Indoor Air Quality, reliable HVAC solutions must compensate for increasingly tight building envelopes. The trend toward tighter envelopes is, no doubt, an important one. They are a must for keeping out moisture, condensation, and soil gases (i.e. radon) as well as reducing heat and air conditioning costs. However, a supply of fresh air coming into a space is vital if you, quite simply, want occupants to breathe. Further, you want them breathing healthy air. The tighter the envelope, the less fresh air makes it into the building naturally.

A SWIFT KICK IN THE PANTS

The World Green Building Council claims the planet needs to engineer a net zero carbon building stock by 2050 to keep the global temperature increase below 2°C. Scientists believe doing so will prevent the most serious consequences of climate change such as disruption of the world’s food supply and flooding of coastal areas. If the world manages to make all new construction net zero by 2030 and older structures retrofit compliant by 2050, will it be enough to help the planet self-correct? Is keeping the temperature increase below 2°C even feasible?

Internalizing your IAQ

It’s easy to ignore things we cannot see. Gravity, oxygen, atoms fall into this category … all good things our bodies make use of daily. If these concepts ceased to exist, so would we. Yet we don’t think about that often, nor is it necessary for the average person to do so. Likewise–and unfortunately–we tend to ignore less-beneficial invisible realities such as poisonous elements that collect in our indoor environments and irritate or endanger our bodies. Sometimes we even ignore stinky toxins if the smell is bearable enough. If your home or work environment’s HVAC system is not spitting out bad air and filtering in fresh air optimally, chances are you’re inhaling damaging elements just as sure as gravity is keeping your feet on the ground. And that’s someone everyone should think about.

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