Forced air heating and cooling in the workplace has always been plagued by inconsistency and uncomfortable extremes. Anyone who has ever sat under a vent blasting cold air or broken into a sweat while typing in a humid office knows the discomfort. But the COVID-19 pandemic has given office workers a new reason to dislike forced air ventilation.
The coronavirus spreads primarily through the air and studies have shown that the virus can easily be carried throughout today’s well-sealed office environments. As a result, experts are advising people to open windows if possible and do whatever they can to refresh the interior air. As cold weather develops, this is an increasingly difficult proposition.
According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers: Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely, and that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.
A 2013 report in the Journal of Pathogens found that the common denominator affecting the transmission of airborne particles in a building is its HVAC system.
However, the increased range of viral particles is not present with radiant heating and cooling systems, which work by warming and cooling surfaces, not by blowing air. And radiant cooling uses only 10% of the ductwork as forced air systems, which means less places for allergens and viruses to accumulate.
Radiant systems have other advantages, of course. They’re quieter, more efficient and more comfortable than forced air. Correct design and installation eliminate the danger of condensation from cooling, even in humid climates.
Even after this pandemic ends, we are likely to face other airborne illnesses that could be spread through forced air systems. Architects and engineers should embrace radiant systems as a safer alternative that could mitigate potential outbreaks in the future.
Learn more about Viega radiant heating and cooling systems.