If your commercial building suffers from excess humidity, poor air quality or stale air, it's likely that you're experiencing poor air ventilation. Poor ventilation is a common side effect of modern energy-efficient building design. Your air conditioner blows outside air into your building, but the sealed building envelope doesn't allow for much air to escape. This causes poor air circulation between outside air and inside air, leading to excess humidity and causing contaminants such as particulates or chemicals in the air to accumulate in the inside air.
However, simply blowing the inside air to the outside and increasing air exchange will ruin your building's energy efficiency. Improving your indoor air quality while maintaining energy efficiency requires you to install a commercial energy recovery ventilation unit. Here's why poor ventilation causes problems with your indoor air quality and how installing an energy recovery ventilation system solves them.
A Sealed Building Envelope Causes Contaminants to Accumulate
Modern commercial building design maximizes energy efficiency by sealing the building envelope as tightly as possible. Your business saves money on heating and cooling costs by preventing conditioned air from escaping. Unfortunately, this has one unintentional side effect that reduces your air quality – with little air circulating in and out of your building, contaminants that reduce air quality come in from the outside air and remain in your building due to the lack of ventilation. Poor ventilation also causes contaminants that originate from inside your building such as garbage odors or chemicals from cleaning products to accumulate inside your building instead of flowing harmlessly outside.
Water Vapor Doesn't Leave Your Building, Causing Uncomfortable Humidity Levels
A sealed building envelope also leads to problems with excess indoor humidity. Bathrooms and kitchens (if your commercial building has one) create a large amount of water vapor that needs to be removed through adequate ventilation. Not only will removing excess humidity make the air in your building drier and more comfortable, but it will also cause your employees and customers to feel cooler at higher indoor temperatures – at a comfortable humidity level, you can set the thermostat higher on your commercial air conditioner and save money on cooling costs.
Simple Venting Improves Air Quality, But Reduces Energy Efficiency
In order to improve your indoor air quality, you'll need to increase the rate of exchange between inside air and outside air by installing a ventilation system. However, the purpose of designing buildings with a sealed envelope is to reduce heating and cooling costs by preventing conditioned air from leaking out of your building. Therefore, a ventilation system that simply blows air out of your building will quickly ruin your energy efficiency, wasting energy and money.
Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems Improve Air Exchange While Maintaining Energy Efficiency
Energy recovery ventilation units are designed to increase air exchange while maintaining your energy efficiency. These devices transfer thermal energy between the air flowing into your building and the air flowing out of your building. They also keep the inside air and outside air separated to prevent exchange of any contaminants that may be in your inside air. A conductive material such as aluminum or fiberglass acts as a physical barrier to the air while allowing thermal energy to transfer between the inside conditioned air and the outside air.
Not only does an energy recovery ventilator remove air contaminants from the inside of your building due to the increased exchange rate of air, but it also reduces humidity. The water vapor generated by employees and customers using bathrooms in your building is carried along with the air leaving your building. You'll reduce humidity without having to install a commercial dehumidifier.
By allowing the transfer of thermal energy but not contaminants or water vapor, energy recovery ventilation systems improve the rate of exchange between inside and outside air while ensuring that the energy used to heat or cool your inside air isn't wasted. If your commercial building suffers from poor air quality due to a lack of ventilation, contact an HVAC professional, such as at Dependable Heating & Cooling, to install an energy recovery ventilator. They're easily integrated into your current HVAC system by installing them next to your central air handler.