by Emily Langner
On season 2, episode 7 of the Build Better podcast, Anastasia talked with Dan Diehl, CEO of Aircuity, a company providing accurate ventilation for healthy and sustainable buildings.
Designing high-performance, high-energy buildings has become a top priority to facility managers in recent years, but Diehl says the COVID pandemic has fast-tracked this important issue, with owners and CEOs urgently seeking solutions as they strive to keep building occupants safe as they return to work. He says, “People have been aware of indoor air quality for a long time. I think what the Covid pandemic has really done is brought a spotlight to the greater public of the importance of it and the effect of indoor air quality on our overall health and wellness, and the contribution that it can have on the spread of a virus.”
Diehl points out that critical environments such as hospitals and healthcare facilities have always prioritized high-quality ventilation systems that are required for these types of spaces. He says Aircuity is now seeing more effort on the part of building managers for other types of facilities to ensure additional measures are in place to protect occupants, especially in the wake of the Covid pandemic, noting that “it’s almost making all indoor environments considered critical environments because of the impact it can have when they’re not clean – on health, on cognitive function, on wellness.”
Aircuity has been involved in several net zero building projects, which can present challenges when it comes to being energy efficient and achieving good indoor air quality. The solution, Diehl says, is implementing intelligent systems and taking a “demand-based approach,” which means “using the energy when and where you need it,” especially now when many buildings are at around 50-70% occupancy.
Diehl adds that it can be more challenging to upgrade existing buildings, as opposed to a new build, but by utilizing incentives offered by utility providers and the federal government, these projects can also be energy efficient while providing a healthy indoor environment for building occupants. And while he admits that change does not happen overnight, he says, “I think what Covid has hopefully done is push us; and what this net zero movement is going to do is push us to that next evolution of what indoor environments need to become.”
As the pandemic continues, Diehl says taking a holistic approach to building healthier, more efficient buildings will not only benefit the environment, but the overall health and wellness of individuals at an extremely critical time. He adds that it’s about looking at the full picture and saying, “we need to do this.”