Top 5 Engineering Considerations when Choosing a Commercial Air Filtration System

April 11, 2022 Jesse Sheppard 0 Comments

Top 5 Engineering Considerations when Choosing a Commercial Air Filtration System

Practical Tips from Commercial Filter Sales & Service

Even before the pandemic spread across the globe, building engineers faced increased concerns about indoor air quality. Commercial tenants ask about filtration systems and, fueled by the information available online, have learned about filter types and efficiencies. We’ve compiled a few practical tips to help you answer stakeholder questions and make sound decisions about commercial air filtration systems.

Reasons to Upgrade Your Commercial Air Filtration System

An air filtration system traps airborne particles of dust, toxins, or pollen before the air travels through the duct system in a commercial facility. Filters collect airborne contaminants, preventing inhalation by building occupants. 

Triggers that spur discussions about upgrading the air cleaning system include:

  • The age of the facility.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA), about one-half of commercial buildings are more than 40 years old. Many of these buildings have outdated air filtration systems.
  • The age of the HVAC system. The life expectancy of a heating, cooling, and filtration system ranges from 5 to 20 years. With proper maintenance, the average lifespan is 15 years. The rapid pace of technology often makes the 10-year mark the right time to upgrade for more energy efficiency.  

If you’re dealing with an aging building or an HVAC system at the end of its service life, it’s time to consider a new commercial air filtration system.

Engineering Considerations to Guide Your Decision about a Commercial Air Filtration System

The top 5 engineering parameters for a commercial air filtration system include the following:

  1. Goals for Air Filtration. Usually, engineers have 1 of 2 objectives when adding filtration to a commercial setting. They need a system that protects air circulation equipment or provides a healthier environment for the building occupants. The aim of the air cleaning system will help determine the type of filters to use.
    • The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) establishes the standard for evaluating a filter’s ability to remove contaminants from the air. Filter ratings reflect the particle size in microns captured during testing. Test results include a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) from 1 to 16 that helps you select the right filter for the task. The higher the MERV rating, the greater the ability to remove smaller-sized particles.
    • If your objective is keeping air circulation equipment clean, then a filter with a 6 to 8 MERV rating will remove 50 to 85 percent of particulates.
    • For delivering cleaner air to building occupants, filters with a MERV of 14 will effectively tackle 80 to 90 percent of contaminants.
  2. Building Pressure. As you’re designing an air filtration system, understanding and managing the building pressure will improve the equipment’s effectiveness.
    • By limiting or eliminating infiltration (indoor pressure is less than outdoor and leaks in), you’ll minimize HVAC loads and reduce operating costs. During warmer months, controlling infiltration (negative pressure) will lower the risk of microbial growth and structural deterioration.
    • Exfiltration, where indoor pressure is higher than outdoor, can create noise around windows and doors and make temperature control more difficult. Positive pressure during winter can create condensation, which contributes to structural weakening.
    • Ideally, your air filtration systems should help you maintain a cold-weather pressure of slightly negative to neutral and a warm-weather range of neutral to slightly positive.
  3. Particulate Air Filtration. The air filtration system for your commercial facility should capture your targeted particle size. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers guidance about particulate matter, and various filter designs are available to address the level of pollution you want to control.
    • Pollution levels include the following:
      • PM10: inhalable particles smaller than 10 µm in diameter, 
      • PM2.5: fine inhalable particles smaller than 2.5 µm 
      • PM1: particles less than 1 micron in size, which represent 98 percent of all air particulates
  1. Air Filter Bypass. Air that escapes filtering can foul the fans and coils of an HVAC system, reducing airflow and heat transfer. To minimize filter bypass, engineering activities should include:
    • Checking that filter installation and gasketing are correct, to minimize gaps
    • Verifying proper sealing of air handler doors and ducts
    • Aligning the change schedule to the filter’s MERV performance rating. 
      • Higher performance filters get dirty faster than filters with lower ratings; bypass can increase by roughly 10 percent on a contaminated filter.
  2. Installation and Maintenance. Partnering with trained HVAC experts ensures your air cleaning system operates safely and delivers the performance you need at your facility.
    • Proper installation of duct liners and boarding prevents exposure to moisture that encourages mold growth. 
    • Professionals will de-grease metal air ducts reducing the number of dirt particles trapped in the system.
    • Scheduled maintenance, including appropriately timed filter changes, will keep your system running efficiently.
    • The addition of indoor air quality meters to measure air particulates will help you respond quickly if your air filtration system is underperforming.

Benefits of an Energy-Efficient, Cutting Edge Commercial Air Filtration System

A well-designed air cleaning system with a top-notch filter will improve your facility’s indoor air quality.  

Building occupants (and owners) will enjoy:

  • Reduced exposure to airborne contaminants like viruses, bacteria, and allergens
  • A healthier environment (and less sick leave)
  • Peace of mind about internal air quality
  • Improved ventilation and airflow
  • Better control of invasion of airborne particulates from external sources like vehicles, fires, and viruses
  • Higher system efficiency
  • Lower costs for heating and cooling

Clean Air—It’s Worth it, and it’s Achievable! 

Ready to upgrade your commercial air filtration system for better performance and improved air quality for occupants? Contact our team to schedule a convenient time to talk about your goals and plan what’s best for your building’s air filtration system.