The new academic year has resumed all around the Kingdom with students partially attending their classes in-person after more than 18 months of home-schooling due to Covid-19, applying several precautionary measures set by the Ministries of Education and Health to ensure the safety of students and faculty members. With this step, the issue of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in Educational Institutes – schools & universities alike – becomes more vital than ever.
Studies have indicated that individuals spend 90% of their time in indoor environments, such as homes, workplaces, schools, restaurants, etc., and now with the new academic year, students will spend a lot of their time in classrooms. Hence, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) should be a primary focus of Educational Institutes by ensuring the air inside their facilities is free from pollutants, allergens and other harmful substances, as well as measuring IAQ, the HVAC systems’ efficiency, and controlling temperature and humidity levels.
Buildings’ IAQ refers to indoor air quality, which directly impacts individuals’ health, comfort, and well-being. Air is affected by gases (including carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds), particulates, microbial contaminants (mold and bacteria), and other factors such as unpleasant odors, smoke, mold and dust mites and the like.
Studies have indicated that individuals spend 90% of their time in indoor environments
With the physical return of students, Educational Institutes need to enhance the IAQ in classrooms, laboratories, libraries, halls and other places where students gather, especially with continuity of the pandemic. This does not necessarily need the installation of new air conditioners; instead enhancing the efficiency of the ventilation system across the entire facility and the air exchange rate to avoid the circulation of the polluted air within the premises. This also includes controlling temperatures and humidity levels to grant students comfort and increase their academic productivity, while simultaneously limiting the spread of viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.
The air exchange rate – the rate at which outdoor air replaces polluted circulated indoor air – in closed environments is an important factor in reducing the concentration of air pollutants and increasing IAQ. The air exchange rate is affected by the design, construction, and operating parameters of buildings (air that flows inside through openings, joints, and cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings and around windows and doors), natural ventilation (air that flows through opened windows and doors), and mechanical ventilation (air that is forced indoors or vented outdoors by ventilation devices, such as fans or air handling systems).
The importance of the air exchange rate per hour rises from the fact that the air is naturally affected by physical and chemical changes, resulting in the amount of oxygen decreasing and carbon dioxide increasing, in addition to odors, heat and humidity due to the physical activity of people. This increases with the increase in the number of students and their activity. Hence, Educational Institutes must ensure that their ventilation systems regularly renew the air inside their premises at a rate of 5-6 times per hour to preserve the student’s health.
The YORK Air Purifier filters the air up to 99.97% through its multi-stage filtration system
Aiming to play a role in the Kingdom’s efforts in preventing the spread of the pandemic, Al Salem Johnson Controls’ (YORK) Research & Development, Product Management & Jeddah Factory have worked together, resulting in the development of a new air purifier. This is entirely made in Saudi Arabia, in line with Saudi Vision 2030 goals of enhancing local manufacturing.
The portable, easy-to-use unit is helping various facilities improve their IAQ, thanks to its latest air purification technologies. This unit comes in different capacities to suit multiple applications, such as small and large educational institutes, health, commercial and residential facilities, offices, hotels, and others.
The YORK Air Purifier filters the air up to 99.97% through its multi-stage filtration system, starting with a pre-filtration by an aluminum filter to remove large particles and moisture. Secondly, it traps gases, such as odors or smoke, via a filter loaded with activated carbon. In the third stage, a high-quality HEPA filter separates the finer particles that escape from the prefilter. The Air Purifier includes an Air Quality Sensor to measure the degree of air purity and then automatically adjust its settings in terms of speed and power to ensure consistent IAQ in a room.
Al Salem Johnson Controls (YORK) continues to conduct local research, transfer the latest international technologies to the Kingdom, and harness its expertise in the field of HVAC to develop more Saudi-made units in its factory located in King Abdullah Economic City. The company also has extensive experience in services, such as measuring IAQ, balancing air flows and raising the HVAC Systems’ efficiency, in addition to having the largest specialized maintenance team in the Middle East.