The coronavirus pandemic has created a new normal, and the only seemingly certain thing is uncertainty. When will the economy reopen? How can we be sure it is safe to reopen? What steps can we take to ensure everyone is safe upon reopening? For hotels, which are especially hit hard by the pandemic response, answers to these questions are imperative.
Hotel occupancy has dropped about 70% overall during the pandemic, with tourist centers like Hawaii and New York City showing marked declines. As businesses begin to reopen, hotels will likely see increases in occupancy rates, however, the worst is not over. With the dual impacts of a pandemic and a recession, many people will be unwilling or unable to travel. Hotels and resorts will have to go above and beyond to demonstrate their commitment to safety—including “air disinfection.” A core component of wellness, indoor air quality should be among the first major priorities to monitor and improve in preparation for reopening.
Why Air Quality Matters in the Fight Against COVID-19
Air quality and health have a long-standing relationship backed by research. The air we breathe can have tremendous impacts on our bodies, from cognitive and mental health boosts to improved heart and lung functioning.
When focusing on the novel coronavirus, in particular, this relationship also holds true. Individuals with preexisting conditions are at a higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19. Since bad air quality, both indoor and outdoor, can contribute to underlying conditions like asthma, heart disease, and neurologic conditions, clean air is essential in minimizing serious cases of COVID-19.
For combatting COVID-19 in a hotel setting, the critical tool is ventilation. In an enclosed, poorly ventilated space, coronavirus-laden droplets expelled from sick individuals can hang suspended in the air and expose residents to infection. By boosting ventilation, we can increase the amount of fresh, safe air and reduce the number of droplets in the air.
However, increasing ventilation alone will not help. It is vital to strike a balance between health and energy concerns and maximizing ventilation will increase benefits at a diminishing rate. We need a way to determine how much ventilation will make building interiors safe without incurring excess costs. This is where air quality monitoring comes into play.
Take Control of Your Air Through Air Quality Monitoring
One of the most important methods of improving air quality is air quality monitoring. After all, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, how will air quality monitoring provide short-term benefit? Well, some air quality parameters, such as carbon dioxide, can serve as proxy units for ventilation. Because carbon dioxide increases with occupancy and decreases with ventilation, keeping CO2 levels in a low, safe band will ensure that fresh air is being supplied at a sufficient rate. Droplets will not be able to freely spread around the interior of the hotel, ensuring that residents are as safe as possible.
Additionally, COVID-19 is not the only health threat we are facing. As businesses disinfect surfaces to eliminate the novel coronavirus, these disinfectant products can release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs for short, which are detrimental to the well-being of building occupants. Likewise, indoor particulate matter has long been a concern, and exposure to particulate matter can increase the severity of COVID-19. Measuring VOCs and particulate matter through air quality monitoring will help make sure that all aspects of your air are safe as occupancy rates rise.
How to Find the Best Air Quality Monitor for Your Needs
Now that we have established the benefits of air quality monitoring, let us discuss air quality monitors themselves. Not all monitors are made equal, and the monitor you need will likely depend on your needs. Before acquiring an air quality monitor, lay out your project goals, as the type of monitor required will vary project-to-project.
When choosing an air quality monitor, please keep the following in mind:
- Building certification requirements;
- Measuring parameters and flexibility;
- Recalibration processes;
- Data collection, storage, and display; and
- Compatibility with building automation protocols.
By using the above factors as decision points, you can be sure to find the right air quality monitor for your needs. You’ll be on your way to establishing a safe environment for your current residents, and you’ll be prepared once the pandemic passes and reopening commences.
Liam Bates is CEO and Co-Founder of Kaiterra. Kaiterra creates high-accuracy air quality monitors and data solutions for consumers, businesses, governments, and industrial use. A global company founded by a Swiss entrepreneur and a Forbes 30 under 30 member, Liam Bates, Kaiterra’s mission is to better understand and reduce the world’s air pollution. For more information, visit https://kaiterra.com/.