In this blog post, Segment Leader for Property and Facility Management, Jon Holmes, shares his recommendations, breaks down total cost of ownership (TCO), and delivers top tips on air filtration for Canadian building managers.
There are over 482,000 commercial and institutional buildings in Canada, with Ontario accounting for 35% of buildings and consuming the highest share of energy1. On a global scale, buildings produce 6% of greenhouse gas emissions and the sector places 6th overall in the top economic sectors that are harmful to the environment2. As establishments look towards creating a greener future, there is an increased focus on saving energy, reducing waste, and limiting air pollution. Many companies are also looking for tools that increase efficiency in their processes to generate labour savings.
Fortunately, there are available solutions that can greatly aid Canadian property and facility managers in achieving these goals. Segment Leader for Property and Facility Management, Jon Holmes (A.K.A. Jon the Filter Guy), shares his insight on the benefits of air filtration in commercial and public buildings and provides top tips for choosing the very best clean air solutions.
What Filters Are Best for Saving Time, Money, Waste, and Energy?
Many air filtration companies offer a broad spectrum of solutions that are not always optimized to be long lasting or provide the best air quality. Low cost filters tend to waste money as there are typically hidden costs that lurk below the surface. These hidden costs include more frequent filter changeouts and an increased energy bill. When considering various air filtration options, building managers are encouraged to evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Total Cost of Ownership in Air Filtration Explained
TCO can be defined as the return on investment (ROI) on a given air filtration product, so one should look for filters designed with longer life and lower energy in mind as opposed to lowest initial cost.
According to Jon Holmes, “50% of a commercial building’s energy use is related to HVAC, of which the air filter uses 35%. In other words, air filters have a very similar impact on the energy use of a building as the choice of lighting.” Choosing a higher performance air filter that is long lasting at a lower pressure drop, energy usage and wear and tear on the HVAC equipment is reduced, as is waste and labor associated with changing filters. Jon adds, “By implementing high performance air filters, for every 1M SF (million square feet), six weeks of labor reallocation is the average amount of time that could be freed up to spend instead with tenants, or other high priority items instead of changing filters.”
Canadian building managers should be on the lookout for products that are MERV/MERV A rated to determine air filter quality.
What is the Difference between a MERV and MERV A Rating?
A large component of determining particle capture ability relates to an air filter’s Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. This rating system was established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and is found in ASHRAE Standard 52.2. MERV values range from 1-16, with higher values indicating better protection against harmful particles.
Not only is there a value associated with upfront capture efficiency, Appendix J in Standard 52.2 stipulates that the terms MERV and MERV ‘A’ are used to identify the drop in filter efficiency over time3. This concept is not new. In fact, MERV A was introduced in 2007 and other associations such as the CSA and BOMA also recognize this term for identifying filter efficiency. A comparative example can be used to illustrate the difference between these two terms: When an individual rubs a balloon against one’s head, the balloon gains a static charge. However, the balloon loses the charge quickly and can no longer attract strands of hair to it once this happens. Following the logic of this example, a 2″ pleated air filter that is rated at MERV 13 can decrease to a MERV 8 or lower as the electrostatic charge drops. Using MERV/MERV A rated filters along with a low TCO can also help to achieve environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG).
Customers aiming to protect building occupants should purchase air filter products that have a minimum rating of MERV 13/13A. Berni Baier, air filtration expert and Segment Leader for Universities and Colleges, adds “You wouldn’t be happy with a big screen TV image getting smaller over time or a car that goes slower and slower as it ages, so why would you be happy with a filter that decreases in efficiency? When you put a MERV 13 filter in on the first day, it should be at least a MERV 13 on the last day of service”.
To further extend the life of a final filter, a prefilter can be applied to collect larger particles before they reach the final stage.
Watch Jon’s video for an in-depth explanation of MERV and MERV A:
Are Prefilters Necessary for Protecting Final Filters?
Aside from extending the life of a final filter, prefilters also prevent HVAC coil fouling. While these are valuable assets, most buildings that were constructed in the 1960’s through the 1990’s have the pre and final filter sections back-to-back and are upstream of the first coil. Providing there is no coil between the first and second stage, the prefilter can be removed altogether which will reduce pressure drop and save energy and not negatively affect overall efficiency.
However, this will increase the changeout frequency of the more costly final filter. Camfil has designed a bag filter for this exact scenario allowing for lower pressure drop and energy savings while guaranteeing a longer life.
Watch Jon’s video for a detailed breakdown on the factors that determine the necessity of a prefilter installation:
What are the Best Air Filtration Options for Commercial and Public Buildings?
For facility managers seeking to upgrade an existing HVAC system, the Hi-Flo ES from our bag filter line is available in ratings up to MERV15/15A. It has the lowest average pressure drop to ensure low energy costs and is also the longest lasting pocket style filter available in the industry. The Durafil ES2 from our compact filter (V-bank style) line is also a long lasting, high efficiency filter. For those looking to remove particulate and gasses (VOC’s or odours) with no hardware changes, Camfil also offers the City-Flo filter.
For facilities wanting to improve air quality further, the portable City M from our air purifier line is a combination HEPA/gas removal filter that removes both particles and gases. These devices also remove odours and can lessen asthma and allergy suffering.
There are a variety of factors that determine which air filtration solutions will best protect your office space. Be sure to contact an experienced commercial building air filtration consultant to find the air filtration solutions that are right for your building.
About Camfil Canada Clean Air Solutions
For more than half a century, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. We firmly believe that the best solutions for our customers are the best solutions for our planet, too. That’s why every step of the way – from design to delivery and across the product life cycle – we consider the impact of what we do on people and on the world around us. Through a fresh approach to problem-solving, innovative design, precise process control, and a strong customer focus we aim to conserve more, use less and find better ways – so we can all breathe easier.
The Camfil Group is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has 33 manufacturing sites, six R&D centers, local sales offices in 30 countries, and about 4,800 employees and growing. We proudly serve and support customers in a wide variety of industries and in communities across the world. To discover how Camfil Canada can help you to protect people, processes and the environment, visit us at www.camfil.com/en-ca/.
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