Clean air in shopping malls draw higher footfalls, says Trane

By
/ EdgeProp Singapore
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September 4, 2020 9:00 AM SGT
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - In early August, climate controls company Trane Technologies announced it was the first in Singapore to launch a new suite of air cleaning systems. The company’s technology uses both photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), along with electrostatic filter technology that when combined, kills or inactivates microorganisms including viruses.
Wisma Atria - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Wisma Atria is one of the first commercial developments in Singapore to adopt Trane’s latest air cleaning system (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
In Singapore, one of the first to adopt Trane’s latest air cleaning system using PCO and UVGI is YTL Starhill Global REIT Management, the manager for Starhill Global REIT. In its FY2020 ended June results announcement, Starhill said the indoor air quality of Wisma Atria shopping mall and office tower will be improved from August. It is installing an “air cleaning system using ultraviolet technology capable of purifying air” inside the ductworks of its air-handling unit. This is on top of deploying autonomous disinfection robots that use innovative UV-C LED technology effective in killing microbes including viruses like Covid-19; as well as applying antivirus and antimicrobial coating to high-touch surfaces such as lift buttons and escalator handrails.
Such steps taken by owners of malls and other public areas give assurance to visitors. “As a customer, you will have peace of mind when you visit the mall,” says Cheng Sin Yew, Trane vice-president of mature market for HVAC & Transport, Asia Pacific.
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“In a typical commercial building or shopping mall, it takes about six air changes to clean and filter away the contaminants,” says Cheng. MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) 13 filters removes particle size of 0.3 to 1 micron with an efficiency rate of 50%, which means about 50% of these aerosols can still pass through, he explains. Hence, Trane’s new technology employs UVGI and PCO which when combined, inactivates or kills microorganisms that has passed through the filters.
PEO CHENG SIN YEW - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Cheng: In a typical commercial building or shopping mall, it takes about six air changes to clean and filter away the contaminants (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Trane’s air cleaning system is most effective when used with central air-conditioning systems, where air is sent from one central location to cool all the other rooms and spaces through ducts, typically used in commercial buildings. Since launching its new air cleaning system, Trane has received more than 3,000 enquiries on the new technology and has secured over 230 orders across the region. Many of those interested are malls and cineplex operators. “We’re glad we can contribute in helping improve the indoor air quality of public spaces,” says Cheng.
Increasing evidence from scientists and virologists point to Covid-19 being spread from person to person in tiny droplets called aerosols. The SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the is only 0.1 micron in diameter, while aerosol particles are less than 5 microns in size, which means it can carry many viruses. “Aerosol particles smaller than 5 microns can remain airborne for indefinite periods (unless there is removal due to air currents or dilution ventilation), and be deposited in the lower respiratory tract,” says Dr Kevin P Fennelly in a July 24 report, published in The Lancet medical journal.
The sources of infectious aerosols include humans breathing, talking, singing, coughing or sneezing as well as plumbing in washrooms — from toilet flushing and splashing in sinks, says William P. Bahnfleth, professor of architectural engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, in his research paper, Fundamentals of Covid-19 Risk Management published in June. Professor Bahnfleth is also the US chair for the ASHRAE epidemic taskforce, and his conclusion is that heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems primarily reduce risk of aerosol and airborne transmission by reducing airborne concentration.
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ASHRAE - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Source: ASHRAE
ASHRAE or the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, is a professional association with more than 57,000 members in over 132 countries worldwide. ASHRAE approved its April position document on infectious aerosols and supports research that advances knowledge on air management strategies that reduce exposure to infectious aerosols.
In June, BCA (Building and Construction Authority), NEA (National Environment Agency) and MOH (Ministry of Health) had issued a joint-guidance note that called for ACMV (Air Conditioning and Mechanical Ventilation) systems and indoor air quality to be improved, as part of overall building safety management measures to safeguard public health.
Trane is a company that specialises in HVAC systems. Other players in this segment include another American firm Carrier Global Corporation, along with Japanese giant Daikin and Johnson Controls, an Irish-domiciled conglomerate that produces fire, HVAC and security equipment for buildngs.
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Trane - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Source: Trane
Trane may not be a familiar name to the average homeowner in Singapore as its customer base is primarily owners of commercial buildings, hotels, hospitals, airports, schools and manufacturing plants, especially those in the food, pharmaceutical and semiconductor sectors. In fact, Cheong reckons more than half the buildings on Orchard Road are cooled by Trane HVAC systems.
A New York Stock Exchange-listed company, Trane was spun off from Ingersoll Rand in March. Trane is now a pure environmental innovation company, focusing on heating, cooling and transport refrigeration. It had been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand since June 2008, after the latter completed the acquisition of Trane Inc for US$10.1 billion back in December 2007. Meanwhile, Ingersoll Rand completed the merger of its industrial business with Milwaukee-based Gardner Denver in early March, and now trades on the New York Stock Exchange as Ingersoll Rand Inc.
Air-cleaning systems are now necessary in commercial buildings, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it is already being deployed at manufacturing plants and hospitals, says Cheng.
He reckons Trane’s new air cleaning systems give it an edge over other players in the HVAC space. “The technology is not foolproof nor will it eradicate the virus totally, but we believe it can help slow down the rate of infection and flatten the curve,” he says.
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