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One of many lessons learned during the pandemic is the importance of in-person learning to student equity, educational development, and social health. Pandemic control strategies such as school closures and distance learning programs are now considered last-resort options by most public health professionals and educators. Understanding this, it’s clear we need to take all reasonable steps to maintain safe, direct interactions between students and teachers, particularly as we transition to the endemic phase of the disease. Temporary infection reduction measures such as masking, physical distancing, and sanitation are important layers of prevention. Still, long-term, the pandemic has demonstrated the urgency around permanently improving indoor air quality (IAQ).
The benefits of healthier interior air are about much more than limiting the spread of COVID-19 in educational institutions. The increased risk of other respiratory pathogens dispersing through indoor spaces is greatly increased due to poor IAQ. Appropriate ventilation protocols are fundamental to lessening the impact of outdoor environmental elements such as temperature fluctuations, pollution, dust, or smoke, and even uncommon but impactful conditions such as sick building syndrome. Good IAQ is a key contributor to creating a safe, healthy, and productive indoor learning environment. The first and second blogs in this series outlined several specific techniques for improving indoor air quality in healthcare facilities. Now, let’s look at some tangible, effective measures educational institutions in Singapore can take to reduce the risk of indoor viral transmission.
Optimize air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation systems to improve overall performance and reduce infection risks in schools
Many factors influence how infectious diseases can be spread in a school setting, including:
- Personal behaviors such as mask-wearing, physical distancing, and sanitizing
- Physical characteristics of the space such as size, layout, and ventilation
- Interaction practices such as the density of students, duration of their interaction, and nature of their activities
Fully optimized heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC) systems play an important role in reducing exposure risks, particularly in instances where campuses cannot fine-tune other transmission variables. For example, advanced digital services solutions like EcoStruxure Building Advisor offer a variety of features that contribute to healthier indoor spaces:
- Continuous AI-based monitoring helps to reliably detect equipment issues early and brings HVAC performance to new levels of efficiency and effectiveness.
- System performance can be analyzed and compared against global reference standards to identify opportunities for IAQ improvement.
- Air quality sensors that monitor public spaces, HVAC maintenance alterations that provide more air changes per hour, plus more fresh outside air, and air cleaning technologies like needlepoint bi-polar ionization or ultraviolet lights for disinfection purposes can be installed.
- UV intensity, run time, and status can also be continuously monitored. At the same time, information about the condition of needlepoint bi-polar ionization devices installed in equipment return ducts to remove air impurities can be evaluated remotely to ensure proactive or timely maintenance.
Monitor and manage the flow of people to help make schools safer, healthier, and more secure
Managing the movement of people in enclosed spaces to ensure campuses remain as healthy and safe as possible is a real challenge, but technology is available to make the job easier. Modern, integrated solutions such as EcoStruxure Building Operation and EcoStruxure Access Expert can help in a number of ways:
- Working together, they help to optimize open spaces, measure indoor air quality, and provide communications to occupants and operators about potential infectious disease exposure.
- Real-time information from wireless sensors monitors occupancy and environmental characteristics and provides analysis to enable real-time, data-driven decision-making.
- Obtain analytics-driven insights to support long-term positive facility outcomes, including optimizing the use of space, improving comfort, and enhancing occupant productivity by creating a more flexible and efficient learning environment.
Leverage air conditioning implementation expertise to ensure comfortable, customizable, and efficient indoor learning spaces in schools
As the only system integrator in Singapore certified by Schneider Electric as a Master-level BMS EcoXpert, Daikin is focused on enabling smart, sustainable buildings that meet the goals and standards outlined in Singapore’s Green Plan. There are several air conditioning special features that can be implemented to reduce the infection risks posed by contagious diseases:
- Cleaning filters – for use on air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation systems, plus UVGI lights that can be installed to kill bacteria and viruses.
- Bio-antibody filters – offer superior protection against viruses and can easily be installed on indoor air conditioning units.
- Anti-mold and bacteria pre-filters dramatically reduce mold and bacteria growth when fitted in air conditioning units.
- MERV 8 filters – are proven to reduce the spread of particles that have harmful effects on the human body.
- Daikin CleAir Streamer Air Purifier – can be placed in individual rooms or high-traffic corridors and is shown to inactivate 99.8% of coronavirus variants and remove up to 99.9% of influenza viruses, bacteria, allergens, and pollens, creating an ideal learning space for educators and students.
While effective personal practices are vital in helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in educational institutions, the role played by good IAQ should not be overlooked. Optimizing HVAC systems and air conditioning units using modern technology and tools is an immediate and effective step we can take to help keep our schools and campuses safe, healthy learning environments.
To learn more about building management systems
Daikin – including our subsidiary BMS Engineering – is a total building lifecycle solution provider and leading system integrator for BMS, facilities management, energy efficiency, and IAQ solutions in the Singapore region. To learn more, visit the Daikin Singapore website.
EcoXperts are the Enablers of Buildings of the Future
The EcoXpert Partner Program is unique in its industry and made up of a best-in-class global ecosystem of expertise. Trained and certified by Schneider Electric, EcoXperts are the implementation arms of EcoStruxure and Wiser all over the world.
Buildings of the Future is about delivering solutions for the sustainable, resilient, hyper-efficient, and people-centric buildings that our customers need. For our EcoXpert partners, this unveils immense growth opportunities through the transition to end-to-end portfolio sales that will resolve our customers’ most critical needs. For our shared customers, this means that together with our EcoXpert partners, we will drive the building industry transformation and help our customers survive and thrive today – and tomorrow.