The Importance of Airflow

Why is airflow so important? If you operate Critical Workspaces, airflow is vital to your organization’s success.

So what exactly does “airflow” mean? In this context, airflow means the maintenance of a facility-wide environment. In contrast, ventilation is a subset of airflow, focusing on the removal of contaminants.

There are two types of facilities with Critical Workspaces: standalone facilities consisting of just the Critical Workspace and mixed-use facilities. Standalone facilities are relatively rare. Mixed-used facilities are increasingly common. The challenge with mixed-use facilities is that the airflow systems must serve the needs of the  Critical Workspace and the rest of the facility. Unfortunately, most mixed-use facilities do not adopt a facility-wide approach to airflow system design and maintenance.

Safety is by far the most important aspect of airflow.  Teams working in Critical Workspaces must be protected. However, the most common methods for addressing safety concerns are based on ad-hoc rules of thumb for air-change rates. These rules often do not reflect the actual risk involved.

Because safety is paramount, the first step in 3Flow’s Performance Optimization process is to conduct a thorough risk assessment for every  Critical Workspace in a facility. Only then can we accurately assess risk and establish appropriate specifications for system performance.

R educing waste is our second area of concern. Critical Workspaces  consume 7x the energy of non-critical space. Airflow systems are responsible for up to 85% of the total energy consumption. By taking a facility-wide approach to airflow, 3Flow implementations have reduced total energy costs by as much as 45%, and ongoing maintenance costs by 30%. Larger facilities have seen savings in excess of $2.5MM per year, all while creating safer, more precisely controlled critical environments.

Facilitating success is the goal of every organization. But when an environment is poorly controlled, outcomes are poorly controlled too. From controlling the spread of contaminants in a Hospital, to the reproducibility of an experiment, optimal airflow is critical. A key deliverable in 3Flow’s Performance Optimization process is the Critical Workspace Airflow Management Plan (AMP) and a training plan for all personnel.

Resilience Planning

Sustainable facilities are resilient and synonymous with operational excellence.  Resilience is the ability to adapt and respond to business disruptions, safeguarding the health and safety of people and protecting your assets while continuing business operations.  In laboratories and healthcare facilities, the continued operation of key systems serving critical spaces may be imperative to protecting people and meeting the goals of the organization.  3Flow can work with you to identify the risks, establish priorities and implement plans to better manage and maintain operation of critical systems.

Additional Resources

ASHRAE – www.ASHRAE.org

American Society of Heating, Refridgerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc.

ANSI – ansi.org

American National Standards Institute.

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