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Committing To IEQ When Operating Gas-Fired Water Heating

Indoor air quality (IAQ) has become an increasingly important issue within public sector buildings. The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance on air quality has advised member states to consider air pollution to be as big a threat to human health and well-being as climate change and adjusted almost all its previous maximum target levels for airborne pollutants downwards. It linked long-term exposure to even relatively low concentrations of ambient and indoor air pollution to lung cancer, heart disease, and strokes.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic new UK standards (BS40102-1) were deemed necessary, providing recommendations for measuring, monitoring, and reporting indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in all types of non-domestic buildings. It includes an evaluation and rating system for air quality, lighting, thermal comfort, and acoustics, to help identify retrofit and renovation work required to improve the health and well-being of occupants.

To meet the new standard organisations will need to tackle conditions that have a direct impact on human health including humidity, and excessive levels of CO2, CO, NO2, volatile organic compounds (VOC), airborne particulates and mould.

Adveco has for many years operated a system of checks to ensure the comfort and safety of buildings, from initial system commissioning, to ensure correct and safe installation of appliances, to annual warranty servicing. Commissioning an application upon installation is especially critical if gas-fired appliances are an element of the hot water system. One of the most common reasons for a system to fail commissioning is the incorrect installation of the flue, often venting too low or too close to a building’s windows. The commissioning process identifies such errors helping to ensure control and safe removal of CO2 and NOx emissions from proximity to building users.

To improve combustion efficiency, the latest generation of condensing gas water heaters and boilers operate so that the water vapour in the exhaust condenses on the heat exchanger and not in the flue or outside the building. With a high-efficiency pre-mix Fecralloy burner, such as employed in the Adveco MD & AD / ADplus product ranges, ideal combustion efficiency can be achieved up to 107% (net)/98% (gross) reducing energy costs and producing ultra-low emissions. The low CO (19ppm) and especially ultra-low NOx (27mg/kWh) emissions, from a hot water system built around a high-efficiency condensing water heater or boiler (Class 6 appliance) easily satisfy the requirements of the current Energy-related Products (ErP) directive.

It is also worth mentioning that regular servicing is important for identifying or preventing cases of damaging corrosion (in soft water areas) and limescale build-up (in harder water areas) which can lead to leaks in any hot water system. If unchecked, the resultant damp can encourage the growth of mould which is a type of fungus which produces airborne spores and is recognised as a potentially dangerous contributor to poor IAQ and health risks. Adveco’s range of stainless steel cylinders and smart application of electric boilers can help address the regional geologic threats to a system.

In the drive to achieve net zero public sector organisations looking to make steps towards a more environmentally friendly built environment may initially reject the gas-fired option, but the reality is modern systems remain advantageous both economically and environmentally, plus they provide a bridge towards potential future hydrogen-based alternatives. While new builds will embrace all-electric flueless systems which effectively negate NOx and reduce on-premises CO2 generation, pre-existing commercial sites need to be increasingly vigilant, especially when ageing gas-fired systems remain in use. If your building’s hot water or heating system predates 2018 then there are advantages to be gained from switching to the latest generation of gas-fired water heaters and boilers, if your system is closer to 15 or 20 years old then you really should be giving serious thought to upgrading appliances or transitioning to alternate technologies.

Setting IEQ performance benchmarks will make it easier for facilities managers to target problem areas, but British Standards will require further tightening if they are to keep abreast of the WHO’s more stringent guidelines. If you operate buildings with ageing gas-fired hot water systems and have concerns about IAQ or wish to reduce carbon emissions as part of a sustainability strategy, speak to Adveco about Live Metering, system assessment and replacement options. Whether looking for high-efficiency, ultra-low emission gas appliances or a move to electric boilers, heat pumps or solar thermal we can help with the design, supply, and ongoing service for more efficient, comfortable, and safe working environments.   

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