COVID-safe office buildings come at a cost to Mother Nature

Air circulation is seen as the best way to combat the spread of COVID-19 inside


Many office landlords are beefing up their HVAC systems and running them longer to mitigate the airborne spread of Covid-19, but that comes at a cost.

Increasing the circulation of outside air through a building is seen as the best way to ensure safe and clean air, but it has to be heated or cooled first. One trade group for HVAC engineers suggested landlords run their HVAC systems 24 hours a day.

That means more carbon emissions and bigger bills, according to the Wall Street Journal. A recent study by Enertiv found that HVAC costs at office buildings have increased 36 percent during the pandemic.

Increasing the flow of air from the outside is the exact opposite of the strategy landlords have been using to decrease emissions and lower costs: recirculate the air that’s already inside.

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Higher carbon emissions could bring down fines from local governments. New York City, for example, passed a bill last year capping building emissions and in 2024 plans to start fining landlords who don’t reduce emissions. Those fines could amount to millions of dollars a year.

Landlords also face potential lawsuits if COVID-19 is spread in their building and a court determines the landlord was negligent.

There are other ways to ensure air is clean besides bringing it in from the outside, namely using more advanced filters. While they’ll cost money to install, they’ll allow more air to be re-circulated safely in the building. [WSJ] — Dennis Lynch