HVAC engineering is associated mostly with space heating for winter and air conditioning for summer. However, with smart design decisions, HVAC systems can also be used to improve indoor air quality. Modern design practices prioritize energy efficiency, which is great from the economic standpoint, but human health and comfort should not be overlooked.
Keeping a suitable indoor temperature is important, but buildings needs a constant supply of fresh air that is not too dry or too humid. Air pollutants should also be monitored and kept under control, or they can cause health issues.
HVAC Engineering Recommendations for Indoor Air Quality
A simple recommendation to improve air quality is having HVAC equipment of the right capacity, since this achieves optimal control over temperature and humidity. As an example, consider the negative consequences of an oversized air conditioning system:
- Oversized air conditioners cool indoor air too quickly, and there is not enough time to remove moisture.
- As a result, you end up with a cold and humid environment that feels like a refrigerator.
- If the air conditioner also has an oversized fan, the high airspeed causes a chilling effect.
On the other hand, an air conditioner of the right capacity removes humidity more effectively, without causing air drafts. A qualified HVAC engineering firm can specify heating, ventilation and cooling equipment of the right capacity according to the needs of your building.
Controlling moisture is also very important for occupant health, and the recommendation is keeping relative humidity between 30% and 60%. Outside of this range, there are many negative consequences:
- Excessive dryness causes dust and viruses to stay airborne longer, and they can spread more easily. Dryness can also cause irritation of the eyes, skin and respiratory system.
- Excessive moisture creates a suitable environment for mold and dust mites, which cause irritation and allergic reactions.
The building itself can also suffer when humidity is not controlled, since many construction materials are damaged by excessive dryness or moisture. Eventually, your property may need expensive reparations.
Using HVAC Engineering to Control Air Pollutants
Indoor environments have many sources of air pollutants, and some of them are very dangerous for humans. For example, new furniture releases volatile organic compounds, and combustion appliances release a lethal substance called carbon monoxide. Keeping these substances under control is very important to prevent their negative effects on human health.
HVAC systems must be designed to provide adequate ventilation, preventing the accumulation of air pollutants in indoor spaces.
- The US Environmental Protection Agency has determined that indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air on average.
- Therefore, replenishing indoor air at regular intervals is a simple way to lower the concentration of pollutants.
- Adequate ventilation can be complemented with filtering and air purifiers to further improve indoor air quality.
HVAC engineering goes beyond heating and cooling indoor spaces depending on the weather. To provide indoor conditions that favor human health and comfort, indoor air quality is also important. Indoor spaces must have a suitable temperature, but also clean air and moderate humidity.