Building science and the novel coronavirus - Zibi

Building science and the novel coronavirus

There is a tremendous amount of attention on how interconnected we are to our immediate environmental conditions and to each other as COVID-19 has reached a pandemic level. Many resources exist on how to slow or prevent the spread of the virus but, it’s important to also consider indoor air quality. The increased amount of time spent indoors means more cooking, more frequent baths and time dedicated to cleaning which all have a significant impact on the indoor air and environmental quality of our homes. These factors are taken into consideration from building design to completion at Zibi and, we are committed to supporting the health of our residents in every capacity by following the strict LEED v4 Indoor Environmental Quality standards.

 

There are three key components that critically affect indoor air quality:

  • Ventilation is crucial. Each condo unit is equipped with its own Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), which brings in filtered outdoor air to your heating and cooling system and helps extract airborne contaminants from the building, making infection less likely. A positive/balanced ventilation system introduces fresh outdoor air into a home at the same rate that stale indoor air is exhausted from the home.
  • A high-quality filtration system like a HEPA filter keeps viruses and other particulate matter out of your indoor air. Filtration is not only important for the HVAC system, but also for the incoming air to any mechanical ventilation system.
  • Humidity control. The COVID-19 virus is encased in a lipid membrane, so this particular virus prefers lower relative humidity (lower than 50% RH, for example). Maintaining an indoor RH between 40%-60% also prevents drying of mucous membranes – dry eyes and cracked lips affect behaviour (hands touching face) and allow some viruses to more easily penetrate natural defenses. And interestingly, lipid-encased viruses are (fortunately) much more susceptible to soaps, because soaps readily break down the lipid membrane (like dish soap on greasy dishes!).

Indoor Air Quality can also be affected by air leaks, insulation, and load matching which are all addressed in our building design. Remember that using green cleaning products is very effective, and will lead to better results for your health, and the health of the outdoor environment as well.

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