With so many outdoor air concerns related to the heat, humidity, and ozone, it’s easy to forget that indoor air quality (IAQ) is just as important — if not even more so. According to the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, where concentrations of pollutants can be 2 to 5 times higher than those found outdoors.
Poor indoor air quality can create health issues that include breathing problems, respiratory infections, and even long-term lung damage. But it can also affect the longevity of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. However, building owners can mitigate these issues by understanding how to manage IAQ in an affordable, sustainable way.=
Those familiar with indoor air quality in Texas know that the Lone Star state is a big hub for manufacturing plants in the oil and gas industries, particularly near bigger cities like Houston or Dallas, but also around other major cities like San Antonio, Austin, and Fort Worth.
Industrial facilities in Texas release pollutants into the air that create smog, ozone, and irritants. While things are improving, research from the American Lung Association shows that Houston Texas indoor air quality is one of the most challenging in the country.
Although your building’s HVAC system should provide you with a form of protection by filtering out these contaminants and circulating fresh, clean air in your building – if your HVAC system isn’t working properly, you may be putting your building occupants at risk.
Indoor Air Testing
The first step to improving IAQ is to get familiar with Texas indoor air quality standards. Even if you aren’t familiar with EPA requirements for air quality, you can have a professional audit your ventilation systems. For example, indoor air quality testing in Houston, Texas gives local business owners an idea of what kind of contaminants may be in their facilities. Generally, this type of testing helps detect specific air quality problems that should be addressed, including:
- Volatile organic compounds
- Mold caused by water-damaged building components
Each of these contaminants can contribute to health issues amongst building occupants. Additionally, when your HVAC system has untreated mold or contamination, it can actually detract from ventilation system performance. Filters may get dirty, organic compounds may corrode HVAC coils and components, and excessive dust may block airflow. All of these weaken HVAC performance and reduce its ability to circulate fresh air.
Regular HVAC maintenance for your air duct and air conditioning systems can help keep systems in better shape, but this type of ongoing maintenance can be costly. This is especially true when you need more advanced services such as mold remediation. Technicians will need to dig into your building’s walls and ceilings to address these issues, requiring significant investments of time and labor.
Up until recently, companies undergoing indoor air quality testing in Austin, Texas and the surrounding areas have had few other options available for improving indoor air quality. Today, Texas indoor air quality can be managed with a new approach: underfloor air distribution (UFAD).
A New Approach: UFAD
UFAD is a relatively new approach to heating and air conditioning that offers several big advantages over traditional HVAC systems. Rather than running ventilation ducts through walls and ceilings, UFAD leverages a unique system of underfloor ducts and raised access floors to make HVAC management easier and more efficient.
UFAD supports better IAQ by supplying clean supply air closer to occupants and streamlining your HVAC infrastructure, thus eliminating the need for extensive trunk, branch, and discharge ductwork. This makes your HVAC system smaller, more efficient, and easier to clean.
Your UFAD installer will use various ventilation products, such as underfloor diffusers and fans, to circulate air more efficiently through each room and filter contaminants at a faster rate – which means that any pollutants that exist will spend less time hanging in the air and ductwork than they might have with traditional HVAC systems, boosting occupant health and comfort all at once.
Furthermore, these types of systems are far easier to manage and maintain than ceiling-based HVAC ducts. Since the ventilation elements are under the floor, it’s easy for technicians to manage and maintain over time. There’s more inherent flexibility for maintenance of wiring, piping, and other building services. For example, if a mold problem is detected, technicians won’t have to go into the ceiling at all – they can simply access one of many raised access floor panels to find the source of the issue.
The efficiency of UFAD also contributes to lower energy use and operating costs for building owners. UFAD can reduce energy costs by as much as 30% compared to traditional systems, which supports long-term environmental protection – and can help a building achieve its green initiatives such as LEED certification.
Find a Better Way to Manage Indoor Air Today
For companies in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston, Texas, indoor air quality is a quality of life issue that can’t be ignored. UFAD represents a new way of managing your HVAC system, one that’s affordable, efficient, and easily adaptable to both new architectural builds and renovations. Contact AirFixture today to learn more about UFAD and how a smarter system of ventilation can improve air quality and energy costs throughout your entire building.