The BuildingAdvice Blog

REOPEN With Confidence

Posted by Jim Crowder on Aug 4, 2020 2:38:35 PM

Reopen With Confidence  - Jim Crowder, CEO, BuildingAdvice Weekly “Reopen with Confidence” webinars starting Aug 11 



In these challenging times coping with the coronavirus, building operators’ are challenged to reopen and sustain the opening of their buildings.   Building operators everywhere are looking for guidance, assistance and support from our industry.  Now is the time to share your core HVAC knowledge on ventilation, filtration and purification to help your customers through the next several months.   Many HVAC pros are reporting that “it has never been easier” to offer assistance and obtain an appointment with a CEO, CFO, or COO looking for solutions to ensure they can reopen successfully.  

ASHRAE, with input from such bodies as the CDC, WHO and research institutions, is recommending increased ventilation, filtration, and humidity controls to reduce the risks of infection.   We know that changing or adjusting these parameters should be a thoughtful process, rather than “opening the gates” as there are real costs to conditioning outside air, push air through higher MERV rated filters, or tweak air balancing to ensure adequate air is being moved to all areas.   In addition, making these changes may exceed the design capacity of current equipment.  

Our recommendation:  take the first step and reach out to your customers and get the discussion going.  They want to hear from you whether it’s as part of your Preventative Maintenance program or ongoing account engagement Set up some time to understand the challenges they are facing.  Now more than ever, they are faced with tangible, measurable financial hardship. And most of you know where I am going with this.  Like our discussions about energy, no service provider is better positioned to work with their accounts to reopen and stay open than a competent mechanical contractor.  It is becoming clear that one of the primary methods of transmission is via the air circulating (or not) in buildings. (more on that in a later blog).  

I have met with more CEOs and CFOs the past 6 weeks than I had all of last year. The ground is fertile for these types of conversations.      

taken from a recent interview with an HVAC Sales Professional 

Our clients have asked for support in this endeavor so we have created a handout “Reopen with Confidence” (link) that you can use as a discussion guide to help you in these conversations. Get an understanding of how your customer has adapted to date, probing any ongoing strategy development and ongoing financial impacts to the business.  Occupancy levels, past, current and forecast, will be important indicators of lost productivity and revenue.  Understanding these dynamics will be key.  Once you’ve gained the understanding and have determined you may be able to help, gain commitment to do a Building Site Survey. 

The survey should be made up of two components 

1. An onsite equipment assessment that includes much of what you’d likely include in putting together a well thought out PM Plan: 

    1. Equipment types, quantities, capacities 
    2. Ability of systems to achieve recommended RH ranges (currently modified to 40-60% per CDC guidelines) 
    3. Age and condition of equipment  
    4. Type of filtration and ability of existing systems to support higher MERV ratings 
    5. Ventilation  
2. A sensor-based assessment that evaluates the quality of both the inside air occupants are currently breathing as well the outside air that will likely be used to increase ventilation.  At a minimum you should measure:
    1. CO2 as a proxy for the efficacy of your ventilation strategy 
    2. Particulates as a proxy for filtration efficacy 
    3. TVOCs (chemicals) as an indication of the presence of unhealthy cleaning agents being overused by cleaning crews 
    4. Outside Air will give you an idea of how much conditioning of that air will be needed to make it healthy for occupants 
    5. RH to ensure the building is not conducive to propagating further spread of existing virus 

Every building design and its use is unique, so a survey is a great way to capture your clients’ distinct requirements and create strategies that address these requirements.  Our clients use our Building IAQ Snapshot IAQ Report Snapshot to supplement their onsite equipment survey.   The report displays hourly graphs that document what is happening inside and outside the building so you can document precisely what you’re trying to correct – e.g. stagnant air, high/spiking particles in the breathing space, fluctuating humidity levels, and the presence of chemicals and gasses.   If you’ve never used a report like this before, give us a call and we will be happy to help you prepare for your client conversation. 

To support our commercial contractors and sales reps in the field, we will be hosting weekly “Reopen with Confidence” 30-minute webinars designed to help you advise customers on how to deal with the current crisis.  We’ll take live questions and you’ll hear from our panel of industry experts.  

Be Safe, but get out there and help your clients. They need you! 


Topics: Coronavirus

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