Current considerations in HVAC filtering for senior housing
A fresh look at air filtration for senior living communities
Few industries have been as profoundly affected for the long term by the COVID-19 pandemic as has the senior housing sector. Among the major learnings for our changed society is the increased importance of HVAC filtering for senior housing beyond what we already knew to be essential.
We’ve long known that HVAC filtering protects residents in senior living communities from the spread of disease. Still, as the current pandemic ebbs and flows, the spotlight on the importance of mitigation efforts illuminates lingering concerns about the air senior residents breathe.
Taking another look at pandemic mitigation practices
Decision-makers at senior housing developments throughout the United States resorted to different mitigation practices to protect residents. They included increased diligence in controlling surface transmission, restricted access to facilities, reduced contact between seniors and others, and increased sanitizing practices — particularly in common areas. While some of these efforts may stay in place throughout the remainder of this pandemic, considering additional protections related to HVAC system filtration will provide an added layer of protection against airborne disease transmission.
It can be easy to disregard the likelihood of airborne transmission; practices like cleaning surfaces and handwashing are relatively easy. But proper air filtration may play an essential role in public health for years to come — even decades. And upfront investment in improved HVAC filtering for senior housing now can position owner/developers well for the future of senior living, infection control and emerging viral threat mitigation.
If we’ve learned anything over the past two years, it’s that attention to indoor air quality is needed now for known threats and an unknown future of disease. More, research from Delos Labs suggests that most senior housing seekers rank air quality among their biggest concerns as they consider housing for themselves or their loved ones. Clearly, an investment in air quality improvement can position senior living facilities well to attract residents.
Here are some options and recommendations that can help protect the health and well-being of senior housing residents while potentially also differentiating a senior living community from the competition.
Upgrade commercial air filtration. Modernizing filtration with MERV-13 filters, for example, can enable your HVAC system to capture airborne contaminants to a much higher degree. Check to see what filters you are using, and consider upgrading your system to enhance filtration. A design and build team can help guide you through determining your current filtration capabilities, what products and HVAC improvements could enhance your infection control efforts or if upgrading your system is required to increase capacity. You may also want to explore filters with antimicrobial coatings to offer an even higher level of protection against dangerous microbes.
Consider bi-polar ionization. This technology can release both positive and negative ions into the airspace, which encourages clustering of potentially harmful viruses, dust, air pollutants, and more to be more easily filtered out.
Use humidifiers. Sufficient humidity levels play an important role in viral spread mitigation, with 80% of viruses deactivated when humidity is 40% or above. Research shows infectivity remains high at as much at 77.3% when humidity is less than 23%.
Install ultraviolet C lights. UV-C lights in your HVAC system can deactivate viruses and kill microorganisms before they endanger residents.
Purify the air. Air purification systems can be installed to augment the efforts of your HVAC system with HEPA filters and increased airflow. These can be installed in ceilings.
Conduct regular maintenance. Keeping up with regular maintenance of your HVAC system is essential in today’s senior living environment. Have your entire HVAC system inspected regularly and have components and ductwork sanitized.
Ready to upgrade or enhance the HVAC system for senior housing?
It’s more important than ever to think about the HVAC systems in senior housing developments. If you’re searching for general contractors in La Crosse, WI, or Rochester, MN, to renovate or build your next project, consider design-build, which reduces change orders and saves money over other commercial construction general contractors. Then, before your next project, contact us to learn more about HVAC system options on the market today that can help clear the air in your senior housing community.