Fred Betz implements initiatives to promote sustainability at healthcare facilities around the world. He also helps develop compliance documentation for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). His work relies on the “predicted mean vote” (PMV), a thermal comfort model used to anticipate the temperatures people consider comfortable based on climate, culture, and how people dress.
The evolution of building automation systems for hospitals comes as the Internet of Things (IoT) and other technologies have lowered the costs of automation and are opening up new opportunities for creating safe, healthy, and efficient environments.
Americans spend a lot of time indoors. How much time? According to the EPA, the average American spends as much as 90 percent of their time inside. And a large percentage of that is spent at work. The challenge for facilities managers is to ensure time spent at work is as healthy as possible.
An intimate jazz concert took place in October 2020, in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, at a downtown bar in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. An audience of less than two dozen students and faculty from the University of Illinois sat listening, all of whom had recently tested negative for Covid-19. For some of the performances, the musicians performed wearing masks or with covers over their instruments’ mouthpieces; the rest of the time, they did not. While they played, a mechanical engineering professor experimented offstage, altering the airflow at the venue throughout the evening by turning on and off exhaust and recirculation fans. His students monitored air quality to determine how well-ventilated the building was by measuring the presence of fine particles and carbon dioxide concentrations.
A small city on the border with Germany in southeast Netherlands decided in 2016 to construct a new municipal office that would promote the idea of healthy and sustainable buildings. It involved the installation of a 2,000 square meter green wall covered with vegetation to filter outdoor pollutants such as carbon dioxide, along with acting as insulation against cold, heat, and sound.
Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors, and the air we breathe when inside a building can have a big impact on our health. Airborne pollutants indoors can occur at up to five times the concentrations of outside air, leading to the development or aggravation of respiratory health conditions like asthma, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumonia. Several studies have even found that buildings may even concentrate contaminants present in the air from their immediate vicinity.
In Australia, aerosol scientist Lidia Morawska works with a device the size of a shoe that measures carbon dioxide in the environment, visiting restaurants, offices, schools, and other buildings to determine how well-ventilated they are. Outside, the monitor typically reads just over 400 parts per million (ppm), though areas with more traffic or industrial activity tend to have somewhat higher levels. When indoors, her readings sometimes shoot up to as high as 2000 ppm, even in buildings that seem well-ventilated.
The travel industry lost an estimated $880 billion during 2020 due to the global pandemic, causing dramatic effects throughout the hospitality industry. Hotel occupancy rates in the U.S. reflect this; falling to 38% in 2020, down from 66% in 2019. Yet this crisis also helped drive digital transformation in the industry to meet new demands, such as contactless check-in. In a very real sense, the pandemic has forced the hospitality industry to evolve.
Is your building as healthy as possible? Can you demonstrate that to your tenants, students, patients and customers?