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Back in my days running Build It Green’s Ask an Expert hotline, I was stunned how many questions practically verbatim to this would come in: “We have a baby due in a few months and are prepping the nursery. What are some healthy paint options we can use”? These parents had generally not given a thought to the concept of healthy air quality until they were passing along their genes. Survival instinct and evolution are powerful forces!

From these most deeply-rooted instincts, both competition and cooperation emerge. We as humans are at our best when we recognize that these seemingly incompatible qualities are in fact complementary. Seeing our country err so far to the side of competition—blue vs. red, us vs. them, individual rights vs. the common good—is counterproductive. We all lose when we lose sight of the importance of listening to each other, finding common ground, and cooperating to optimize outcomes. At Beyond Efficiency we thrive on learning from and collaborating with a diversity of professionals to help solve urgent challenges: ensuring healthy indoor air during wildfires, staying healthy during a pandemic, and drawing down emissions. 

To circle back on the topic of indoor air quality concerns, which are especially worrisome for those of us with children in schools and daycare in the era of COVID, read on for tangible mechanical systems solutions. And remember that while tensions are high these days, it will take both competition and cooperation to preserve our planet so that future generations can enjoy the wonders of life. 

Let’s get to work!

Principal + Founder, Beyond Efficiency

SARS CoV2 (COVID-19) HVAC System Recommendations

Mechanical systems solutions
by Kara Rousselle, P.E.

The last virus considered a pandemic was the H1N1 flu virus in 2009. Influenza vaccines now include a 2009 H1N1-like virus with stating that “the (H1N1)pdm09 virus continues to circulate as a seasonal flu virus.” As our society has had to acclimatize vaccines to include H1N1, so too will it have to adjust to COVID-19, not only from a health care perspective, but also in the built environment. Beyond Efficiency has been receiving numerous requests for COVID-19 recommendations as they relate to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Below is an outline of available opportunities to reduce the potential for  virus transmission through a building's HVAC systems.

Infectious diseases are spread through aerosols, large droplets at short range, fomites (intermediate surfaces – clothes, furniture, etc.), water/food, direct contact with an infected person, and via insects/animals. There are still many unknowns regarding the methods of spread of SARS CoV2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. The CDC recently updated their guidelines on how COVID-19 spreads to include airborne transmission via small droplets and particles. “There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had adequate ventilation.” How long the virus remains infectious in the air has not yet been established.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is continually working on their recommendations as they relate to SARS CoV2. These recommendations are continually evolving as more is learned about this virus. The general HVAC recommendations below only address aerosol and fomite transmission via the HVAC system and have the potential to reduce the risk of infection in all building types.

... read more about specific COVID-19 HVAC systems recommendations.

Newsflash: Research + Evaluation

Stay on the cutting edge of energy-related research
To complement our quarterly newsletter we're excited to announce a new option for those interested in special research and evaluation topics: our Research and Evaluation 'Newsflash' email list. These will be brief updates that are shorter than a newsletter and longer than a tweet.

Newsflash: Research + Evaluation will share information on new, ongoing, and potential research initiatives. You'll learn about the performance of cutting-edge technologies, new products on the market, and other insights that you may be able to leverage in your buildings. We'll also outline our project ideas so you can consider joining a project team and collaborating with us to drive better building design.

Our primary research areas are residential hot water energy efficiency and load shifting. You can expect announcements about new water heating products, advanced control strategies, and code changes. If you sign up for Newsflash: Research + Evaluation, you might see something like this in your inbox:
We at Beyond Efficiency have started creating simulation models for hot water distribution systems. We've noticed that a lack of analytical tools for distribution systems commonly cause problems in the industry. Organizations can't predict saving from different approaches and determine what measures to encourage. Consultants helping update Title 24 struggle to estimate the energy savings impacts of different distribution systems. Builders can't back up their designs and demonstrate that new technologies and approaches yield benefits. We've taken it upon ourselves to improve the situation by creating the tools the industry needs to answer these important questions. Read our LinkedIn article if you think these tools would be useful. 

Would you like to receive Newsflash: Research + Evaluation?

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We plan to launch additional special topic Newsflashes. Which of the following topics would interest you?
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Affordable Multifamily 
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Cold Climate Strategies 
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Noteworthy Events

We'll be presenting, attending, or wishing we were there

November 10, 2020
Integrated Design Process: Projects of All Sizes and Delivery Methods, Online
This program covers how owner/design/construction teams for nonresidential and multi-unit residential buildings can work in a more integrated manner regardless of delivery method. Integrated Design can result in buildings that have greater value to an owner, improved durability, better environments for occupants, and use less energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Brought to you by PG&E Energy Centers, this session focuses on three Case Studies of successful projects of varying delivery methods including Design-Bid-Build, Design-Build, and Design-Assist.

November 11, 2020
Streamlining Policy + Planning for ADUs,
As part of their Fall Forum series, join Build it Green in exploring how cities, counties, and companies are working together to streamline permitting to get people in healthy homes quickly.

December 2, 2020

Inspecting Photovoltaic (PV) Systems for Code Compliance, Online
This advanced class will cover issues pertaining to inspection and permitting of photovoltaic grid-tied systems in all sectors. Brought to you by  PG&E Energy Centers, this workshop is designed for those who wish to stay current on the latest code compliance issues and facilitate safe and long-lasting PV systems.

Greenbuild Virtual

November 10-12, 2020
Greenbuild International Conference and Expo is the largest annual event for green building professionals worldwide to learn and source cutting-edge solutions to improve resilience, sustainability and quality of life in buildings and communities. "Healthy People in Healthy Places Equals a Healthy Economy" comes full circle at USGBC's annual conference, and the culmination of 2020's Greenbuild series of events. The virtual experience will include collaborative education sessions, valuable networking, continuing education, virtual booths, and future-focused talks. Christiana Figueres, architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, will deliver the keynote speech.

December 2, 2020
How to Achieve an Equitable Gas Transition,
The Building Decarbonization Coalition will present a look at how energy systems' benefits and burdens have historically landed unequally on different communities, resulting in a legacy of inequalities from how programs and policies are implemented to the burden energy costs place on household budgets. Mad Stano of The Greenlining Institute will discuss the range of impacts on communities, and how considerations of equity and distribution should be applied to this proceeding so that not group is eft paying for the remaining pipeline.
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