The ABCs of Optimizing Indoor Air Quality at Restaurants

Encouraging mask use, regularly cleaning surfaces, and social distancing are essential for reducing the spread of COVID 19. However, reducing the presence of potentially infectious airborne virus particles can increase confidence in dining at your restaurant. Broaden your approach to optimizing indoor air quality with these ABCs of pollutant control.

A – Enhance Filtration

Upgrade the air filter on your commercial heating or cooling unit to one with a MERV 13 rating or better.  MERV 13-rated filters remove less than 75% of bacteria and airborne particles 0.3-1 micron in size and 90% of particles over 1 micron. For the best protection, consider HEPA filters (not “HEPA-style”). True HEPA filters trap particles 0.3 microns and larger with 99.7% efficacy.

B – Increase Fresh Air

When possible, avoid recirculating indoor air, opting instead for 100% outdoor air. Introducing fresh air can be accomplished with outside air units or outdoor air economizers. You can use these units to pretreat dining rooms and kitchens, improving air quality and comfort inside your restaurant. Compared to typical restaurant HVAC designs, these systems over-ventilate, delivering 125-180% more fresh air than required by code while reducing energy use.

In fact, during moderate seasons, it may be easier to maintain your desired restaurant temperature and humidity levels with this design. In more extreme weather conditions, your HVAC system must have the capacity to compensate for this; otherwise, ventilation levels should be adjusted for comfort.

C – Add UV Technology

Add a third layer of protection, reducing the presence of microorganisms with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. These lights can be installed within your restaurant HVAC system or ductwork or the upper regions of dining and kitchen areas. The duration and intensity of UV-C exposure are crucial to efficacy and safety. Limiting direct exposure of patrons and staff to UV is essential to avoid eye and skin damage. Your local HVAC commercial contractor must professionally install these systems to ensure optimal performance and safety.

Specialized computations using the Wells Riley rate should be conducted to determine how to best use ultraviolet germicidal irradiation at your restaurant, including the number of lamps and duration of exposure. This formula is widely used to identify the probability of infection in an occupied space, including studying airborne infections and the link between sick leave and ventilation systems.

Optimize the air quality in your restaurant, improving the dining experience and ensuring repeat business. Contact H & H Commercial Services to uncover ways to boost patron confidence in your restaurant’s indoor air quality today.

NOTE/Disclaimer: ASHRAE, in alliance with recommendations from the CDC and WHO, offers recommendations specifically to operating your commercial HVAC system during COVID. However, given the many unknowns and continued study of COVID-19, HVAC systems and products have not yet been tested for their effectiveness in reducing the spread of this disease.