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COVID-19: Camfil Experts Provide Insight for Commercial Building Managers

Aug. 19, 2020
Experts answer key questions related to building occupant protection through improved air filtration.

Riverdale, New Jersey, Aug. 19, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)  — Experts from Camfil realize that, depending on where you live, your local economy may have gone through several cycles of starting and stopping due to fluctuating COVID-19 infection rates. They add that for property managers in commercial real estate, the issue is even more complex as they need to balance the needs of various tenants. Some tenants may be required to close their doors or convert to virtual offices while others need physical locations to remain open. 

“What we don’t want to happen is property managers to feel like they have to balance doing what’s right with the everyday costs of operation,” says Mark Davidson, manager of marketing and technical materials at Camfil USA. In a new video, air filtration experts from Camfil provide guidance for property managers who are looking to protect their tenants with high-efficiency air filtration. Camfil’s John Holmes, who has years of experience assisting property managers find the right air filtration system for their needs, shares his experience and advice to shed light on the situation. 

What Are the ASHRAE Recommendations for Air Filtration in Commercial Buildings? 
Camfil says that even though ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) recommends a minimum MERV-13 air filtration, MERV-13A filters provide added filtration benefits.

MERV-13 is a buzzword you might have heard thrown around,” says Holmes. MERV-13 has been frequently cited by many cities and municipalities as what’s needed for reopening. MERV-13 air filtration may be a guideline for some and a mandate for others. However, there are variations in the actual real-world efficiency of MERV-13 air filters, because many use an electrostatic charge to boost effectiveness. Unfortunately, this electrostatic charge dissipates after a short period of time and in the case of a MERV-13 air filter, this can mean you’re actually getting MERV-8 air filtration in the long run. That isn’t sufficient to reduce risk and offer higher protection for tenants against the COVID-19 virus.

Camfil says If a building manager is looking to protect clients and tenants rather than simply check a box to fulfill an ordinance, they should opt for MERV-13A or higher air filtration. Instead of replacing air filters every month, which quickly adds up in time and labor costs, MERV-13A air filters maintain their efficiency for longer periods of time. 

What If My HVAC System Doesn’t Have the Capacity For MERV-13A Filtration?
To achieve MERV-13A efficiency, filters rely on a larger number of fine fibers within the matrix of their filtration media instead of depending on a temporary electrostatic charge for air filtration effectiveness. Unfortunately, many HVAC systems only have 1- or 2- inch tracks to hold air filters and air filters designed to deliver actual MERV 13A efficiency can carry a higher operational cost in 1- or 2-inch depths. 

You should speak with an air filtration or HVAC expert to determine what options you have for installing  MERV-13A filters. There are other alternatives available instead. For example, a HEPA-grade in-room air purifier can fit into just about any space and provide hospital-grade air quality.

What Are the Benefits of MERV 13-A or Higher Air Filtration?
Filtering out COVID-19 infected respiratory droplets isn’t the only benefit to having high-quality air filtration. Even once the threat of the virus has passed, there is much to be gained from clean air inside commercial office spaces.

Firstly, higher energy efficiency and longer product life lead to reduced overall costs and a high return on investment. “To get that high level of air quality, you don’t have to spend a ton of money upfront. The return on investment is actually quite high,” Holmes notes. “You can have hospital-grade air quality for roughly 1/10th of the cost of other preventative measures, such as UV.”

Secondly, longer performance and lifespan saves an average of three weeks of labor per million square feet of property each year. This valuable time, otherwise known as reallocated labor, can be redistributed to focus on other building needs which enhances the tenant experience. 

Additionally, Camfil experts say clean air has been shown to increase productivity and cognitive performance in students and workers.  For more information about the benefits of clean air in the workplace, see this blog post

For more than half a century, Camfil worldwide has been helping people breathe cleaner air. It provides commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment.