In recent years, there has been a heightened awareness among the public regarding air quality and its profound impact on our health. From the COVID-19 pandemic to rising rates of wildfires and pollution, we have come to realize the critical role that air quality plays in our well-being.
Public health researchers, such as Dr. Joseph Allen of Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, national associations such as American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Center for Disease Control and the White House have led the way in making indoor air quality (IAQ) a priority. As understanding around the importance of IAQ deepens, these leaders are placing greater emphasis on the role healthy buildings play in producing better health outcomes for occupants.
In fact, ASHRAE recently released the first-ever standard for maintaining healthy indoor air quality, “Control of Infectious Aerosols”. This standard establishes minimum requirements to help mitigate transmission of airborne pathogens, including equivalent outdoor air exchanges (the combined effect of ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning), recommended room air distribution, and the development of a building readiness plan.
The standard also breaks new ground by providing guidelines for equivalent air changes per hour (eACH), which offers building managers the flexibility to select combinations of technologies including HVAC systems, air cleaners, UV and more that best satisfy their economic constraints and energy use goals.
Demand from experts and the people who occupy these shared spaces has caused many employers to prioritize IAQ and ask for more investment in air quality management (AQM). To meet evolving industry standards and greater public interest in cleaner air, an effective AQM system needs to deliver optimal air quality benefits to occupants, while integrating seamlessly into existing buildings and systems.
A networked approach to air quality management
Understanding this need for a new category of AQM that goes beyond mere hardware upgrades, Fellowes has introduced Array™. Array represents a pioneering networked AQM system that combines the best features of HVAC systems and standalone air purifiers. It offers unparalleled flexibility, efficacy, and the ability to work harmoniously alongside HVAC systems, while also providing real-time monitoring and insights.
Fellowes Array uses its proprietary technology to create a networked system that incorporates the benefits of H13 True HEPA filtration, a full suite of nine indoor air quality sensors, and monitoring with real-time data to monitor, track, and improve building-wide air. The first system of its kind, Array enables networked air purifiers and commercial HVAC to work in complementary harmony to efficiently and effectively clean the air throughout an entire space and building.
Complement existing systems while seamlessly integrating new systems
While most commercial buildings rely heavily on HVAC systems to distribute clean air indoors, HVAC systems alone may not meet the expected IAQ levels for businesses and occupants or meet the new ASHRAE standards. HVAC systems benefit users by being integrated into the building and their unobtrusive design, but they don’t offer the same highly effective H13 True HEPA filtration and close-to-the-source capture of contaminants that dedicated high quality, commercial-grade air purifiers can provide.
Array’s air purifiers with integrated sensors securely connect over LTE to form a complete network that is constantly communicating for optimal air quality in every room, floor and building. The system can seamlessly integrate into any building and any space, offering a variety of units that can be placed where needed to provide optimal air purification coverage.
While HVAC systems contribute to ventilation by bringing in fresh air and expelling stale air, air purifiers with higher air changes significantly enhance the removal of airborne pollutants. ASHRAE guidelines recommend a combination of clear air delivery rate and filtration levels equivalent to 5 eACH for a space, which may be unattainable through current HVAC systems alone. Array delivers an additional 3 to 5 eACH to help a space reach ideal air change levels, pulling contaminants up and out of the breathing zone, while simultaneously pushing clean air out throughout the room to improve ventilation effectiveness—reducing the stress on the HVAC system and energy costs.
Array also carries many of the benefits that make HVAC systems so important in buildings, including the integrated, out-of-the-way design and monitoring capabilities necessary to evaluate an IAQ program.
From recessed units in the ceiling for large meeting spaces to standing units that can be moved wherever they’re needed, the complete Array system integrates with existing architecture and design aesthetics to provide maximum benefits for each room’s occupants without detracting from the space. Plus, Array is completely scalable, allowing for users to add Array units in more areas over time or as needs change.
Positive outcomes require access to key data and metrics
Consistent measurement is critical to determine an AQM system’s performance. Without accurate and complete access to data and insights, systems cannot function at their full potential, and building managers are left without key insights to help them further improve their building’s performance.
A new international building standard, the RESET Air Standard, expands upon air quality standards contained in the WELL Building Standard to provide robust guidance for the continuous gathering of IAQ data. Under RESET, IAQ parameters that should be measured include particulate matter (PM2.5), total volatile organic compounds (TVOC), carbon dioxide, temperature, relative humidity and more to create a full understanding of IAQ in a space and how it changes over time.
The ability to access data in real time enables users to understand their current air quality, ensure that the system is running optimally, and maintenance needs are met, make necessary changes to improve IAQ based on occupancy and other factors, and measure the building’s IAQ performance over time.
A critical part of the Array system is its Viewpoint dashboard, which offers a wealth of key data and metrics in real time to help spaces meet the RESET Air Standards. Viewpoint displays a holistic view of a space’s air quality by measuring a variety of factors, including temperature, occupancy, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, TVOCs, humidity and more. The data is displayed in a visual dashboard, along with notifications, trends and information, to enable optimal IAQ management and allow for building managers to make real-time adjustments directly from the dashboard.
For employers interested in boosting in-office attendance, access to this data is key to providing a healthy and comfortable work environment for employees. According to research conducted by Carbon Lighthouse, over 80% of millennials said they would feel safer returning to the office if they had access to real-time, transparent information on indoor air quality. Array’s localized displays and Community Dashboard provide real-time updates on air quality status and metrics in a user-friendly format that lets occupants know how clean the air is in every space, at any given time.
Fellowes is an air quality management partner
Despite the growing demand for cleaner indoor air, there remains some confusion among the general public on best practices for AQM. This has been further exacerbated by the influx of air treatment/purification options in the market immediately after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help clear the figurative air, Fellowes recently published this informative blog post about the facts and fiction of IAQ and air purification.
With so many air purification options available on the market today, it’s important to partner with a leader in the industry that offers the highest quality air purification, seamlessly integrates with current systems and provides access to key metrics. Unlike many companies that released air purifiers during the COVID19 pandemic, Fellowes brings over 15 years of experience as a leading innovator in localized IAQ management to the table with the launch of Array. As a provider of innovative workplace solutions for more than 100 years, including workstation furniture, modular walls, ergonomic accessories, business machines and more, Fellowes is the perfect partner to help your organization find the innovative solution to your AQM and other workplace needs.
Fellowes acts in true partnership with clients, providing guidance and unparalleled customer service throughout the process to find the right air quality management solution for any space. Learn more about Array and how Fellowes can help create a successful IAQ management system for you on the Fellowes website.