How HVAC will change due to COVID

Mechanical engineers and controls experts shared details about HVAC and BAS in a research study

By Amara Rozgus April 1, 2021

Consulting-Specifying Engineer just completed research on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, plus building automation systems. The results are pretty interesting, and provide a glimpse of what mechanical engineers and building experts are thinking as they specify HVAC and BAS products.

For example, the top HVAC and control systems being specified today are HVAC controls (74%), fans and air movement (71%), BAS (69%) and pumps and pumping systems (68%). In the future, the respondents also anticipate specifying products or services related to commissioning, indoor air quality, demand-controlled ventilation and BAS.

This is expected, as nearly six in 10 respondents is involved in one or more projects in which clients are requesting changes to HVAC systems due to COVID-19. The top building projects for which respondents are designing or retrofitting HVAC systems to meet the needs of the building owner as it relates to COVID-19 are office buildings (52%), hospitals/health care facilities (41%), college/university buildings (35%), K-12 schools (31%) and government buildings/military facilities (23%).

The key products or systems being specified to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Office buildings, college/university buildings and K-12 schools: Higher MERV rating for filters and additional outside air ventilation.
  • Hospitals/health care facilities: High-efficiency particulate air filtration increase and negative pressure rooms.
  • Government buildings/military facilities: Additional outside air ventilation and ultraviolet disinfection/germicidal irradiation.

The study respondents were realistic in their answers. Both short- and long-term expenses are the most noted drawbacks anticipated with specifying products and systems in an effort to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

More than half of engineers foresee some key drawbacks to the products and systems being specified to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, mainly an increase in capital expenses (72%) and long-term operations and maintenance expenses (67%).

And only 28% of respondents think product manufacturers are prepared to offer equipment to meet COVID-19 needs. That said, 51% of engineers report that equipment vendors frequently or always help to complete their specifications. These numbers need to get closer together so that the products meet the needs of the specialists specifying them.

Education about products’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 issues needs to be available to the engineer, the manufacturer and the building owner or facility manager. Without full data on products details, specifications may fall short or not meet the owner’s needs in the future.

Author Bio: Amara Rozgus is the Editor-in-Chief/Content Strategy Leader