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MINISPLITS ACHIEVING AND IMPROVING
INDOOR AIR QUALITY... AND HEALTH
An estimated 60-70 million residential and light commercial central air conditioners are now in service after being certified by the manufacturer and independently verified by ARI with the help of a third party laboratory. Architects and mechanical engineers can accurately design appropriate systems for all climates.
Similarly, office buildings are being properly built with state-of-the-art chillers and equipment likewise certified and verified to exacting performance standards.
There is much more being done to extend the delivery of the high quality indoor environment. Manufacturers sponsor applied technology competence through the Partnership for Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), the Industry Competency Exam (ICE) and the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) programs.
By accrediting HVACR programs and recognizing skill excellence through ICE and NATE, the industry is developing a workforce capable of meeting the multiple challenges that come from installing and updating heating, ventilation and cooling systems. Separating impurities from air is a science that benefits not only from new equipment, such as improved filtration, but also from operating techniques, humidity control, maintenance, building controls and design.
Manufacturers give high priority to campaigns that encourage the public to conduct proper periodic maintenance of their equipment. The use of NATE-certified technicians will help assure that the equipment is properly installed and maintained, which contributes to the national goal of conserving energy and reduction of power plant emissions.
Manufacturers support pre-competitive 21st Century research that enables them to offer equipment and services in the next decade that, once integrated into building and process applications, utilizes dramatically less energy while addressing the comfort and indoor environmental quality needs of building occupants.
Manufacturers of HVACR equipment work as partners with a number of industry organizations on mutual objectives. Working together we are making progress on issues that improve the image of the industry as one that truly cares about its customers. ARI is pleased to count among its allies the Air Conditioning Contractors of America; the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers; the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers; the Building Owners and Managers Association; the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Home Builders; the North American Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Wholesalers Association; the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society; the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors National Association; and many others.
Building owners, contractors and HVAC manufacturers face a new challenge - protecting commercial and government buildings from air-borne contaminants that could be chemical, biological or radiological (CBR). A recent report offering guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Resources concludes:
"Preventing possible terrorist access to outdoor air intakes and mechanical rooms and developing CBR contingent emergency response plans should be addressed as soon as possible ... Some items, such as improved maintenance and HVAC controls, may also provide a payback in operating costs and/or improved building air quality.
"As new building designs or modifications are considered, designers should consider that practical CBR sensors may soon be available. Building system design features that are capable of incorporating this rapidly evolving technology will most likely offer a greater level of protection."
As this latest development proves, there is no shortage of challenges for the HVAC industry. But for many years it has proved itself capable of delivering on the promise and the reality of improved indoor environment. The manufacturers are actively engaged to "achieve and maintain" improved indoor air quality.
The HVAC industry has been proving for years that ventilation and air conditioning - when combined with expert building design, equipment installation, maintenance and controls - can provide more than just a comfortable indoor environment. It saves billions of dollars in productivity losses and lives that could be lost in heat waves.
In recognition of the danger posed by extreme heat, the U.S. Weather Service this summer unveiled the Mean Heat Index, which calculates how hot it feels and allows forecasters to alert the public when the MHI approaches 85, which can be dangerous.
This is serious business. In 1980, more than 1,700 people died during a heat wave in the East and Midwest part of the U.S.; more than 700 died in 1995; and more than 100 perished in Chicago alone in 1999, while dozens of others died in such places as Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The Chicago medical examiner, after studying his city's higher death rate during heat waves, compared to places where conditioned air is widespread, came to an inescapable conclusion: air conditioning can save lives.
No wonder that nationwide more than 85 percent of new single-family homes are built with central air-conditioning, up from 43 percent 30 years ago. And, it's easy to understand why even a few decades ago work in the nation's capital and many other cities slowed as people tried to take refuge from the heat. Equipment options available today would amaze our forefathers.
Refrigeration and air-conditioning influence every aspect of our lives. Food is shipped fresh and refrigerated from anywhere in the world. Conditioned air and humidity control made the Information Age possible because it is essential to heat-sensitive equipment which makes our work more productive.
Making it all possible are the skilled workers who install and maintain the vast array of equipment manufactured to demanding requirements to improve indoor air quality in homes, offices, factories, malls, hospitals, schools, and government buildings.