HVAC + Plumbing

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC Systems are the Hot Topic in High-rise Buildings (Updated)

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC Systems are the Hot Topic in High-rise Buildings (Updated)

How does a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system help high-rise buildings with their main HVAC issues? Learn about sick buildings, VRF solutions, and healthy IAQ.

Heating + Water Issues Closing Older Elementary Schools During Cold Weather

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Baltimore, MD -- Four schools in Baltimore, MD were closed because of heating or water issues so far this year.

The city school spokesperson, Edie House-Foster said, "Over the winter break, facilities staff monitored schools to check on heating systems, plumbing, and electricity.  Numerous problems were identified and resolved.  Unfortunately, with the extreme temperatures, new problems can emerge quickly." 

Parents, students, and teachers have been posting about the terrible conditions.  Classroom thermometers are showing 30 degree rooms.  Some classes are taking place in the cafeteria because it is too cold in the classrooms.

The Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen declared a "code blue," which states that the the temperatures are dangerously low.

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"We have many schools with leaky windows and outdated heating systems that have a hard time keeping up.  With extreme temperatures, we have the added challenge of freezing pipes and water main breaks," said Wen.

According to healthyschools.org, temperature has a significant impact on student learning.  According to a study completed by the organization, the ideal classroom temperature is 72 degrees.  When a school is too hot, it reduces test scores by 22%.  When it is too cold, it reduces test scores by 17%.

Students are also negatively impacted by allergies.  When schools properly maintain the HVAC, they have found that test scores increase 17.3%.  Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) impacts allergies.  By having a strong IAQ management plan, allergy symptoms will be reduced and improve attention spans.

HVAC and Flu + Cold Season - What You Should Know

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February is the peak of cold and flu season.  If your office is anything like ours, everyone has gotten a bug at some point this season.  In fact, it is the worst cold and flu season in almost a decade.  It is on pace to reach the death toll of 2014-2015's cold and flu season.  During that period, 56,000 Americans died of the flu.

Did you know HVAC can have an effect on colds and flu?

It's true!

Your HVAC filters air throughout the property.  By making smart HVAC decisions, you can reduce the likelihood of cold or flu viruses spreading.

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1.  Change your air filter

HVAC filters should be changed monthly with high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filters.  These filters can reduce tiny particles in the air that can spread colds and flu.


2.  Moisture in the air

Studies have found that the reason that flu season is in the winter is because of the lack of humidity.  Humidity affects how long the flu virus is stable.  It is believed that the water vapor deforms the virus.  

Add a whole house humidifier to your property, if you don't already have one.  In addition to deforming the flu virus, humidifiers reduce the symptoms of colds like sore throats, post nasal drip, congestion, and scratchy throat.

3.  Keep temperatures warm

Button you coat; you'll catch a cold!  While that is not true, what is true is that warm air holds more moisture than cold air.  As you saw in the previous section, moisture help prevent the flu and reduce symptoms of a cold.   Additionally, bodily natural defenses are less active in the cold.  The silica hairs in your nose, which trap germs, become less effective in cold temperatures.

4.  UV Lights

Did you know that UV lights used in HVAC systems have proven to reduce fungal growth?  It's true.  An NCBI study installed UV lights on certain floors of an office building and, as a control group, not on others.  The UV light floors had reduced fungal contamination in the air-handling units, in the fiberglass insulation, and reduced airborne fungi in the floor space.  

This year, Americans have already lost their lives to the flu.  To keep your home, apartment building, or office healthy - try these four tips for reducing flu and cold viruses with smart HVAC decisions.




The Top 4 Multifamily Amenities to Attract Millennial Tenants

Tenants are looking for something new.

Gone are the days of paying via a drop box and never seeing your neighbors.  Today, millennial tenants want an experience.  They want social responsibility.  They want convenience.

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Property managers are seeing that and changing the way they operate.  Property management isn't just maintenance calls anymore.  Now, they are looking for new, innovative, and sometimes back-to-basic ways of giving tenants what they want.

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1.  Community Engagement

Today's tenants want a sense of community in their apartment building.  Property managers can host events to bring the community together in addition to having community space.  Host a wine tasting in the lobby, a super bowl party, or a yoga class.  Take old space that is no longer used and convert it to a BBQ area.  Property managers have the opportunity to foster relationships and comradery with residents, and that is exactly what they are craving.   

Related - What Do Property Managers Need to Know:  Five Year Fire Sprinkler Inspection

2.  Pet-Friendly 

According to petfoodindustry.com, 84.6 million millennials have pets.  Of that group, 63% think their pets should be pampered.  Residential buildings that cater to pets will have an advantage for millennial tenants (the biggest renter market).  If the building has open space, consider making it a dog park area where owners can let their dogs off leash for some fun.  When 70% of people who live in apartments have a pet, you want to capture that market by catering to them.  Other pet-friendly amenities include on-site grooming, boarding and pet sitting, in-house dog walkers, indoor/outdoor dog parks, and more.

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3.  Green Utilities

Millennials prefer an energy efficient home.  Apartment units should have energy efficient appliances.  They look for Energy Star labels on their dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerators.  In addition, add smart control to the HVAC.  These choices will keep utility costs down for the building and tenant.  Offer recycling in your building.  Millennials care about environmental issues, and would choose a building that has recycling over another.

Related -  5 Blogs to Keep Property Managers at the Top of their Game

4.  Convenience

Today's tenant wants convenience.  They want online payment portals, online leasing, and maintenance requestsThey want on-site fitness centers.  They want car services.  They want WIFI.  

What are you doing to differentiate your building from your competitors?



ENR Midwest Project of the Year: 150 N. Riverside

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F.E. Moran and F.E. Moran Fire Protection are excited to announce that their project 150 N. Riverside was chosen as ENR Midwest's Project of the Year:  Office/Retail/Mixed-use.

Developers and architects deemed the property at the corner of the Chicago River "unbuildable."  However, Goettsch Partners and Riverside Investment and Development found a way to make it work beautifully and transform the landscape of the Chicago skyline and riverwalk. 

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Here is an excerpt from ENR Midwest.

For decades, the less-than-two-acre sliver of land that would eventually become the home of 150 North Riverside sat vacant and unwanted, deemed unbuildable by developers and architects alike.

Despite a desirable Chicago loop location with easy access for commuting workers, the site offered a scant 47 ft of space to build a tower due to seven active Amtrak rail lines on the west and the city’s requirement for a riverwalk to the east.

“The idea of transferring perimeter columns into a core (via steel structural members) was the solution from Jim Goettsch’s first sketch,” says Joachim Schuessler, a principal at architect Goettsch Partners. “We knew we couldn’t land the main structure of the tower within the train tracks or too close to the river. We asked Ron Klemencic [chairman and CEO at Magnusson Klemencic Associates] if we could make that work, and he said, yes, we could and he came up with the necessary tools to do that.”

Read the full article in ENR Midwest.


Six Golden Safety Rules for Data Centers by Data Center Knowledge

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Data Center Knowledge and Digital Realty Trust's Director of Environmental Occupational Health and Safety developed an article about the cultural shift in the data center industry.  As data centers have grown and become more complex, the risks have grown as well.

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Here's an excerpt:

There’s a culture shift afoot in the data center industry. It puts new emphasis placed on safer working conditions for data center engineers and electrical contractors where, historically, such emphasis was a second thought. As equipment has grown increasingly complex and sophisticated, so too have the risks. This new safety awareness is a welcome change.

Today’s data centers -- from the hyper-scale to the agile colocation centers -- have increased in size, complexity and importance. They use massive amounts of power and cooling to ensure reliable operations. Data center companies have come to recognize that safety excellence is imperative to maximize uptime for their customers while reducing operational risk. Of the many safety issues that today’s data center operators must consider, these six rules are at the top of the list