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Monitoring Pressure

  • Consider installing a simple pressure differential gauge across all filter banks. This will prevent school facilities personnel from having to guess whether the filter is ready for replacement. A gauge with a range of zero to 1.0 in. w.g. can save money and the environment by preventing premature disposal of filters that still have useful life, and can prevent health and maintenance problems caused by overloaded filters that have blown out. The gauge should be easily visible from a standing position in an easily accessed location near the air handling unit.

Air Cleaning for Gaseous Contaminants

The most effective means of reducing exposure of occupants to gases and VOCs is to manage and control potential pollution sources. Filters are available to remove gases and volatile organic contaminants from ventilation air; however, because of cost and maintenance requirements, these systems are not generally used in normal occupancy buildings or schools. In specially designed HVAC systems, permanganate oxidizers and activated charcoal may be used for gaseous removal filters. Some manufacturers offer "partial bypass" carbon filters and carbon impregnated filters to reduce volatile organics in the ventilation air of office environments. Gaseous filters must be regularly maintained (replaced or regenerated) in order for the system to continue to operate effectively. See also "Residential Air Cleaners (2nd Edition): A Summary of Available Information."

Ventilation Controls

Although a typical HVAC system has many controls, the control of outdoor air quantity that enters the building can have a significant impact on IAQ, yet typically is not part of standard practice. Demand controlled ventilation is addressed as a method of humidity control, but is not otherwise discussed here because its primary use is to reduce the supply of outdoor air below the recommended minimum for the purposes of saving energy, not for improving IAQ.

Volume Monitoring and Control

Supplying acceptable quantities of outdoor air to occupied spaces is a critical component of good indoor air quality. Yet nearly all school ventilation systems cannot indicate whether outdoor air is even being supplied to the school, much less gauge the quantity of that air. Virtually all existing school ventilation systems rely upon a fixed damper to regulate the amount of outdoor air. Yet wind, stack effect, unbalanced supply and return fans, and constantly changing variable air volume (VAV) systems can cause significant under- or over-ventilation, which can affect IAQ and energy costs. Combinations of these effects can even cause the intake system to actually exhaust air.

  • Specify the addition of a measuring station that actively controls the amount of outdoor airflow by modulating the outdoor air damper and the return (recirculation) damper, if needed to overcome wind and stack effects. These measuring stations are designed to work in limited duct space and with low air velocities. This is an easy task, as some manufacturers offer their airflow measuring stations in separate packages with dampers and actuators, and others are built into the AHU at the factory.

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