Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

Over the last few years, access to clean indoor air has become essential for people that work inside of buildings like offices, hospitals, and schools. This has prompted organizations like ASHRAE and the CDC to introduce clean air targets to improve indoor health and comfort in buildings and encourage increased air ventilation, filtration, and use of air-cleaning technologies. 

As a building owner or operator, it’s crucial to understand the impact these measures can have on indoor health, energy consumption, and occupant comfort,  before taking action. 

Recent research conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Labratory and the Berkeley Lab examined the effectiveness and energy use of various indoor air cleaning measures in a typical office building, with the intention of identifying the most optimal strategies to achieve clean air targets, while also minimizing energy impacts. 

The research reveals that office buildings using in-room germicidal ultraviolet light or portable air cleaners use about 75-80% less energy per unit of equivalent clean air than HVAC-only approaches. This means that buildings can meet clean air targets without trading off on minimizing energy consumption and maintaining occupant comfort.

Key highlights from the research:

In-room UV light cleans air without compromising energy efficiency

The study found that in-room measures, such as in-room germicidal ultraviolet (GUV) systems and portable air cleaners (PACs), were highly effective in meeting clean air targets without significantly impacting energy consumption or occupant comfort. These measures provide localized air cleaning and can effectively mitigate the spread of airborne pathogens. 

HVAC measures to meet clean air targets substantially impact energy use 

On the other hand, measures implemented in the HVAC system, such as increased filtration and in-duct GUV systems, did not meet clean air targets and led to substantial increases in energy consumption. These findings highlight the challenges associated with implementing HVAC-based measures.

Meet indoor air quality standards and save on energy with R-Zero

R-Zero’s mission is to power today’s buildings to meet tomorrow’s challenges. We want to help you unlock energy savings by harnessing data to improve your building for people, energy, and sustainability. To learn more about R-Zero’s innovative UV-C solutions to mitigate HVAC costs, check out R-Zero’s ROI & Sustainability Calculator.

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