The hospitality industry has had to significantly increase its safety protocols for the health and well-being of guests and employees over the last two years. Still, of 3,000 North Americans who were surveyed, 74% were anxious about poor indoor air quality when entering buildings, showing that more needs to be done for all occupants to feel safe and comfortable when in a hospitality setting. Many factors are important when working towards this, but how do the mechanical systems in these settings play a role?
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in lobbies, restaurants, and other high traffic areas
Common areas are everywhere in hotels and restaurants, which only heightens the importance of indoor air quality. Recent studies suggest that along with replacing old air filters and ensuring proper ventilation through air vents and windows, using air purifiers in hotels could potentially improve IAQ.
Air purifiers, which have proven most effective when less obstructed or set at tabletop level, are great for reducing airborne contaminants because they’re able to capture 97% of even the tiniest particles – 0.3 microns, to be exact – in a variety of public spaces. Not only that, the purifier’s effectiveness is heightened when the source of contaminants are closer to it, which can be all the time in hospitality settings. Here, the risk of exposure to airborne contaminants is reduced, increasing guest confidence and comfort as a result.
Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) and zone-controlled heating and cooling
As a ductless HVAC system, Variable Refrigerant Flow provides simultaneous zone-controlled heating and cooling, deeming it one of the most beneficial solutions to the hospitality industry. This is because VRF systems are compact and non-intrusive, consisting of either two or three pipes, and can be added to existing buildings without much ductwork or changes to the structure. As a result, the usable space in these settings is maximized, all while providing guests with temperatures that are comfortable and adaptable to different areas of various sizes.
The compressor unit and multiple indoor fan coil units are the two key parts of a VRF system. While fan coil units condition and recirculate the air in rooms, compressor units are usually located outdoors on the roof of buildings. By cooling and heating refrigerant, the compressor unit can cool and heat different zones at once, while also allowing refrigerant heat to be recovered. When the heat in areas being cooled is recovered, it can be used in areas being heated.
Guest comfort is most important in hospitality and HVAC systems must accommodate different temperatures in different spaces to ensure just that – a VRF system is a perfect solution.
Boilers and make-up air units
What role do boiler systems and make-up air units play in all of this? Boilers remain one of the most popular methods of heating buildings – specifically larger ones like hotels – as a powerful system is needed to keep the entire space warm. Their even heat distribution provides comfortable heating for guests and other occupants since the heat is consistently delivered to maintain proper temperatures. Along with their functionality, the design flexibility and options of boilers mean it’s very easy to find one that suits any building. In every case, water is stored in a tank and heated by pressure, then transferred to areas that need healing.
Make-up air is exactly what you think it is: an HVAC solution designed to “make up” the air in an interior space after it has been removed due to process exhaust fans. This is done so by pulling in fresh outdoor air into the building, heating and cooling it depending on the desired temperature, and replacing existing air that cannot be recirculated.
Much like VRF systems, make-up air units contribute to the overall comfort of guests while also being energy efficient. This is because these units provide the inside of a building with fresh tempered air, helping offset air that is exhausted by other mechanical means. They can also temper the same cold air to warmer air – such as -10° F to 50° F, for example – meaning the heating system isn’t required to work any harder than needed and saving energy as a result.
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Category: Commercial, air quality, boilers