The rollercoaster that is the pandemic has shown us that fresh air and purging of room air has an enormous influence on the spread of a virus. The chance of contamination increases by viral load (how much of the air has the virus in it) and the length of time a person is exposed to this contaminated air. The purpose of ventilation is to move the air quickly away and out of the building to decrease both of these conditions.
4 min read
Topics: COVID-19 indoor air quality IAQ
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I was recently involved in a commissioning (Cx) project that involved an owner’s training scope that went beyond the general Cx scope or LEED requirements and wanted to share my insights into this experience. For our standard training review scope, we ensure requirements for training are included in the specifications and review each subcontractor’s training plan ahead of the training session to ensure it will meet the requirements of the project contract documents. This also provides an opportunity for the owner to review the plan ahead of the training and indicate whether there are other items they’d like to see covered. However, this training review approach leaves a gap in the process, as the level of detail provided during the actual training session may not align with the expectations of the Cx agent or the owner/operator, and the starting expertise of the building operator varies greatly project to project.
Topics: building automation system training
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Few documents are as important to commissioning providers as the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR), it is our building block, our map and compass used to navigate the project to success from pre-design to occupancy. It's obvious this is an important document to us at Cx Associates, too. A search of our website resulted in three full pages of hits of the acronym. We’re know this document inside and out, from developing them, to reviewing pre-existing OPRs, to gently reminding contractors and designers that the document exists, but until about a year ago there was only one way around an OPR.
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Cx Associates is a mission driven engineering firm, applying concrete solutions to complex problems. A subset of these problems requires solutions that are a lot less tangible than the engineering solutions we seek to implement every day. Take climate change, for example. While the symptoms of climate change are real-world and concrete (rising sea level, measurable increase in extreme weather events that can be charted and graphed), the solutions to climate change are often conceptual and fraught with uncertainties. There is plenty of research to suggest that humanity has the technical solutions to climate change well within its tool belt. The uncertainly lies in application. What does a carbon-free transportation system look like? What’s the right mix of electric and public transportation and bike riding? How will populations be impacted when these changes mold habits and limit choices?
4 min read
Last June Cx Associates, along with many other businesses nationwide, openly and emphatically stated our support of Black Lives Matter and recognized the immense amount of work we as individuals, a company, business community, and society need to do to address and dismantle systemic racism. It’s been a long and challenging year on many levels since then, but Cx Associates has made it a priority not to let those challenges hinder our commitment to pursuing justice and equity for all. We’re dedicated to transparency and accountability in this process, and we plan to continue to update our network of clients, partners, and friends on our progress.
Topics: Social Responsibility Equity DEI
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Two weeks ago, Cx Associates made a donation to COVAX, the vaccine procurement and supply operation led by UNICEF to ensure “global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines”. By joining UNICEF’s Humanitarian Circle, the donation will support UNICEF’s campaign to secure two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered to over 180 countries worldwide. Cx Associates was compelled to act swiftly and support this cause, recognizing that health for everyone, everywhere is imperative to justice and equity.
Topics: Social Responsibility COVID-19 Equity
6 min read
Cx Associates was obviously not alone in shutting down our main office in Burlington, Vermont in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. Employers across the country shut down their offices and told their employees to work from home for the foreseeable future. Last summer, Cx Associates took measures in our office to enable a slow (and optional) return to working in the office – we constructed plastic barriers between workstations, installed HEPA air filters at each desk, and mandated mask use when not at one’s desk. But one year later, we are still very much a distributed team; we have one employee who already worked remotely, and many others who either prefer to work from home when possible and/or are not yet comfortable going back to the office.
Topics: technology COVID-19 coronavirus remote
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A while back, we ran out of freeze spray, an essential tool we use for functional testing. I was about to order some new bottles, when Matt Napolitan suggested I pick a brand with a low global warming potential (GWP). Great idea! Although I'm generally quite aware of sustainability issues, I confess I probably wouldn't have thought about this; I would have just purchased the same brand we had ran out of. So, I wanted to share this quick story about the impact that seemingly small decisions can have on greenhouse gas emissions.
Topics: Sustainability Climate Change
5 min read
Cx Associates has posted several blogs about an HVAC systems’ contribution to keeping building occupants as safe as possible from the COVID-19 virus. But for some building owners and tenants, understanding what they have for an HVAC system and what they can do to make their systems better isn’t immediately known without some help from experts in this industry.
Topics: COVID-19 ventilation indoor air quality
6 min read
Over the past several months, it has been proven that HVAC systems play a role in the mitigation of the spread of a virus like COVID-19. The first line of defense – personal masking and social distancing – is by far the most effective in mitigation, but we’ve learned a lot about HVAC’s contribution to keeping people safe indoors. My last blog covered the why & how of ventilation (fresh air). In this blog I want to focus on ventilation control strategies: why & how the industry evolved from pre-pandemic minimalization, to early-pandemic wind tunnel 24/7, to a common sense, balanced approach on ventilation control.