E+E Elektonik launches EE 212 humidity and temperature sensor
ENGERWITZDORF, Austria, 19 May 2021: E+E Elektronik has launched the EE212 humidity and temperature sensor, which it described as being suitable for challenging measurement tasks in climate technology, agriculture and the pharmaceuticals industries.
A modular probe design makes it easy to replace the sensing module directly on site, if needed, E+E Elektronik said, adding that the E+E sensor coating, the wide choice of filter caps, and the robust IP65 / NEMA 4 enclosure ensure accurate and reliable measurements even under challenging working conditions.
DriSteem releases Buyer’s Guide
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minnesota, 16 May 2021: Dri-Steem, manufacturer of humidification, evaporative cooling and water treatment products, released a buyer’s guide that focuses on humidification for laboratories, the company said through a Press release.
“This new buyer’s guide is written specifically for laboratory facilities personnel,” said Jennifer Montville, Director of Marketing, DriSteem. “Careful control of relative humidity levels in labs generates more accurate test results, prevents contamination, and promotes a healthier work environment. DriSteem has been designing and building world-class humidification equipment for more than 50 years and is committed to helping facilities use those products to optimize their businesses.”
According to the company, its humidification systems are made to fit each unique application, whether it is ensuring the success of critical research, preserving fragile and valuable materials and instrumentation, or protecting the health and wellbeing of building occupants. DriSteem said its mission is to support healthy environments – studies show that ideal room relative humidity (RH) is 40-60%.
DriSteem introduces new humidifier
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minnesota, 12 April 2021: DriSteem introduced its RTS humidifier RX series, which it described through a Press release as a compact, elegant, cabinet-style, resistive-to-steam humidifier that is ideal for any application where reliable humidity control is needed.
For added application flexibility, the company said, there are 21 models to choose from, with capacities up to 324 lbs/hr (147 kg/h). In addition, the standard single stage solid state relay (SSR) control allows for a tight range of relative humidity control, keeping it within +/- 1 % RH, the company added.
According to DriSteem, the RX series offers a number of features that make it stand out against other steam humidifiers in the market:
- Removable front covers with quarter-turn latches that allow easy one-sided access to the tank and electrical connections
- Large clean-out and heater plate for easy access when cleaning the tank
- DriSteem’s programmable smart drain and scale management technology, which adjusts drain intervals automatically based on water quality:
- Removes precipitated minerals from the tank
- Skimming removes foam and suspended minerals
- Matching Space Distribution Units that disperse steam with no visible vapor trail (SDU-I-RX)
- Functionality of Vapor-logic controller with an intuitive touchscreen interface:
- Start-up wizard for simplified setup; scan QR codes to access product manuals
- Color-coded alerts to reduce down-time and technical calls
- Contextual Help link on every screen
- Standard BACnet connectivity
- Indoor and outdoor models
- Wide voltage ranges
- International approvals
- EN1717-compliant for protection of potable water supplies from pollution caused by back-flow
“The new RX series,” said Mysty Hanson, DriSteem Product Manager, “offers a next generation breakthrough in our resistive steam humidifiers, with ease of maintenance, installation flexibility, and environmental protection, while continuing DriSteem’s legacy of sustained quality and dependability.”
Condair releases whitepaper on healthy buildings
PFÄFFIKON/FREIENBACH, Switzerland, 14 February 2021: Humidity specialist, Condair, which specialises in humidity management solutions in the built-environment, has released a whitepaper, titled Making Buildings Healthier.
Making the announcement through a Press release, Condair said the paper contains information on how building managers can protect occupant health with a holistic approach to controlling their indoor environments.
According to Condair, the pandemic instigated by SARS-CoV-2 has focused public attention on the risks posed by viral transmission in buildings. Contributory factors that have been known about for some time, have now been placed centre stage, emphasising the influence that elements such as fresh air, temperature, minimum relative humidity and even sunlight all have on the spread of viruses.
The aim of the whitepaper is to provide an overview of these factors and promote dialogue amongst facility managers, users, and health and safety officers, enabling the right package of health protection measures to be considered, Condair said. The whitepaper also includes a checklist so that readers can take stock of their building’s current situation, discover the extent to which their premises protects against the spread of infections and identify where improvements could be made, the company added.
Oliver Zimmermann, CEO, Condair Group, said: “The Condair Group is the world’s leading specialist on humidity control, and for years, we’ve collaborated with scientists and healthcare experts to understand and promote the importance of optimal humidity for health. Through this research, we appreciate that humidity control is just one, but a decisive, weapon that can be used in the fight against respiratory infections.
“Upgrading our built-environment to better protect human health from the current COVID-19 and future potential pandemics, whilst not sacrificing the important gains we have made in energy efficiency, is the single largest challenge the HVAC industry will face in our lifetime. To achieve this objective, we must act as a sector to educate, cooperate and implement practical solutions as rapidly as possible. This whitepaper presents a clear and concise overview of the steps building operators can and should be taking to enhance occupant health, using a holistic approach, rather than a one-size-fits-all, to indoor environmental management.”
According to Condair, the whitepaper can be downloaded from www.condair.ae/making-buildings-healthier-whitepaper.
Sauermann launches six HVACR measuring instruments
BRUSSELS, Brussels, 07 February 2021: Sauermann’s new range of measuring instruments offers its 40 years of metrological expertise to distributors in the HVACR sector, the company said through a Press release.
Sauermann said it is offering six reliable and precise instruments designed to quickly check the functionality of HVACR systems. The new range of products covers a full spectrum of measurements, including temperature (dual input Si-TT3 and infrared Si-TI3 thermometers), humidity (thermo-hygrometer Si-HH3), pressure (digital differential pressure manometer Si-PM3), and air velocity (hotwire Si-VH3* and vane Si-VV3 thermo-anemometers), it said. Dependable, quick and easy measurements are done with just a few clicks, thanks to the instruments’ long-lasting batteries, it claimed.
The instruments are all equipped with a backlit display and a wireless pairing functionality, to be used with a brand-new mobile application available for iOS and Android devices (Si- HVACR Measurement Mobile App), the company said. Developed in-house at Sauermann, the app offers functionalities, such as the display of additional measurements (calculated parameters), and the recording of measurement campaigns that can be exported as PDF, XML or CSV reports (measurement tables and curves over time), it said. Further, Sauermann said it is offering reliable connected devices, with an integrated magnetic holder for handsfree measurements, with which a wide variety of measurements can be taken with ease and confidence.
ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force releases updated Building Readiness Guide
ATLANTA, Georgia, 02 February 2021: With the performance of many HVAC systems in buildings still being evaluated, the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has updated its reopening guidance for HVAC systems to help mitigate the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, ASHRAE said through a Press release.
“The Building Readiness Guide includes additional information and clarifications to assist designers and commissioning providers in performing pre- or post-occupancy flush calculations to reduce the time and energy to clear spaces of contaminants between occupancy periods,” said Wade Conlan, Lead, ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force Building Readiness team. “New information includes the theory behind the use of equivalent outdoor air supply, method for calculating the performance of filters and air cleaners in series, and filter droplet nuclei efficiency that help evaluate the systems’ ability to flush the building.”
According to ASHRAE, major updates to the building readiness guidance include the following:
- Pre- or post-flushing strategy methodology: The strategy has been updated to include the use of filter droplet nuclei efficiency, which is the overall efficiency of filter, based on viable virus particle sizes in the air, to assist in determining the impact of the filter on the recirculated air on the equivalent outdoor air. This allows the filter efficiency as a function of particle size, using ASHRAE Standard 52.2 test results, to be estimated based on the expected size distribution of virus-containing particles in the air. This calculation is currently based on Influenza A data and will be updated as peer-reviewed research becomes available for the distribution of particle sizes that contain a viable SARS-CoV-2 virus. Additionally, a chart has been added to help determine the time to achieve 90%, 95% or 99% contaminant reduction, if the equivalent outdoor air changes per hour is known.
- Flushing time calculator: There is now a link to a view-only Google Sheet that can be downloaded for use, to help determine the available equivalent outdoor air changes and time to perform the flush. This sheet is based on a typical mixed AHU with filters, cooling coil, with potential for in-AHU air cleaner (UVC is noted in the example), and in-room air cleaning devices. Provided efficiencies of MERV-rated filters are based on the performance of over 200 actual filters from MERV 4 through 16, but the tool also allows users to enter custom characteristics for specific filters.
- The sheet also calculates the filter droplet nuclei efficiency, based on the cited research but allows a user to adjust the anticipated distribution of virus, as desired. It also allows specification of the zone (room) air distribution effectiveness from ASHRAE Standard 62.1 to account for the impact of the HVAC system air delivery method on the degree of mixing. Default calculations assume perfect mixing. Finally, the tool allows for the target air changes to be adjusted if an owner wants to achieve a different per cent removal in lieu of the recommended 95%.
- Heating season guidance: The guide now includes data to consider for heating of outdoor air and the potential impact on pre-heat coils in systems.
- Adjustments to align with Core Recommendations: The Core Recommendations were released in January 2021, and this guidance document needed to be updated to ensure that the information provided aligned with the intent of those recommendations. This included minimum outdoor air supply and filter efficiency requirements and their role in an equivalent outdoor air supply-based risk mitigation strategy.
According to ASHRAE, the guidance still addresses the tactical commissioning and systems analysis needed to develop a Building Readiness Plan, increased filtration, air cleaning strategies, domestic and plumbing water systems, and overall improvements to a system’s ability to mitigate virus transmission.
ASHRAE releases core recommendations for reducing airborne infectious aerosol exposure
ATLANTA, Georgia, 14 January 2021: The ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has released new guidance to address control of airborne infectious aerosol exposure and recommendations for communities of faith buildings, ASHRAE said through a Press release.
An infectious aerosol is a suspension in air of fine particles or droplets containing pathogens, such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which can cause infections when inhaled, ASHRAE said. They can be produced by breathing, talking, sneezing and other as well as by flushing toilets and by certain medical and dental procedures, it added.
ASHRAE’s Core Recommendations for Reducing Airborne Infectious Aerosol Exposure concisely summarize the main points found in the detailed guidance documents produced by the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force, it said. They are based on the concept that ventilation, filtration and air cleaners can be combined flexibly to achieve exposure reduction goals, subject to constraints that may include comfort, energy use and costs, it added.
“This guidance outlines a clear approach for lessening the risk of infectious aerosol exposure for building occupants that can be applied in a wide range of applications, from homes to offices, to mobile environments, such as vehicles and ships,” said William Bahnfleth, Chair, ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force. “ASHRAE’s Core Recommendations are based on an equivalent clean air supply approach that allows the effects of filters, air cleaners, and other removal mechanisms to be added together to achieve an exposure reduction target.”
According to ASHRAE, specific recommendations include the following:
- Public health guidance
- Follow all regulatory and statutory requirements and recommendations.
- Ventilation, filtration, air cleaning
- Outdoor airflow rates guidance for ventilation, as specified by applicable codes and standards.
- Recommendations on filters and air cleaners that achieve MERV 13 or better levels of performance.
- The use of air cleaners.
- Control options that provide desired exposure reduction while minimizing associated energy penalties.
- Air distribution.
- Promote the mixing of space air.
- HVAC system operation
- Maintain temperature and humidity design set points.
- Maintain equivalent clean air supply required for design occupancy.
- Operate systems for a time required to achieve three air changes of equivalent clean air supply.
- Limit re-entry of contaminated air.
- System commissioning
- Verify that HVAC systems are functioning as designed.
According to ASHRAE, the task force’s Communities of Faith Buildings guidance offers recommendations on conducting worship services under epidemic conditions.
Rick Karg, ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force member, said: “The intent of the Communities of Faith guidance is to offer those who operate and care for buildings used for worship a plan for implementing short- and long-term HVAC strategies to reduce the possibilities of transmission of the SARS-CoV2-2 virus. The document also helps communities move toward a new ‘normal’ operation after this public health emergency nears an end.”
According to ASHRAE, recommendations for Communities of Faith include the following:
- Identify HVAC system characteristics. Compile and review operation and maintenance manuals and schedules.
- Verify HVAC systems are well maintained and operating as intended. For maintenance, follow the requirements of ASHRAE Standard 180 – 2018, Standard Practice for the Inspection and Maintenance of Commercial HVAC Systems.
- Consider PPE when maintaining HVAC systems, including filters, coils and drain pans.
- Operate HVAC systems, if present, with system fan set to run continuously when building is occupied for services or cleaning.
- Operate the system for a time required to achieve three equivalent air changes of outdoor air (effect of outdoor air, filtration and air cleaners) before the first daily occupancy and between occupied periods, if appropriate. Three equivalent air changes can be calculated using ASHRAE’s Building Readiness Guide.
To view the complete ASHRAE Core Recommendations For Reducing Airborne Infectious Aerosol Exposure and Communities of Faith Building guidance, ASHRAE suggested visiting ashrae.org/COVID-19.
ASHRAE Learning Institute opens registration for Spring online courses
ATLANTA, Georgia, 8 January 2021: ASHRAE Learning Institute announced that registration is open for its 2021 Spring online instructor-led course series. The 16 online offerings, including eight new courses, run from January through June, the Institute said
A new course, ‘Reopening Commercial Buildings: Evaluating Your HVAC System’s Readiness to Mitigate the Spread of SARS-CoV-2’, taking place on January 27, will expound the online ASHRAE COVID-19 details for reopening buildings and the Building Readiness Plan for HVAC systems, the Institute said. The course will help reiterate mitigation strategies available and understand specific buildings arrangements, the Institute added.
The course, ‘Health Impacts of Indoor Air Extraction, Ventilation, and Filtration – Same or Different’, scheduled for February 17, the Institute said, will cover the future design of forced air ventilation systems and the most cost-effective HVAC operational changes and system modifications to improve existing indoor environments in reducing the spread of viruses.
The course, ‘Hospital HVAC – Infection Mitigation, Comfort, Performance’, scheduled for February 23, will address the role of HVAC systems in helping to reduce Hospital Associated Infections (HAI), explaining airborne versus contact transmission, the Institute said. This course will describe the why and how filtration, air patterns, air changes, dilution, temperature, humidity, UV and pressurization in hospital HVAC can either help or hinder efforts to reduce HAI, the Institute added.
According to the Institute, the following is the full schedule of online instructor-led course offerings:
February 17: Health Impacts of Indoor Air Extraction, Ventilation, and Filtration – Same or Different?
February 23: Hospital HVAC – Infection Mitigation, Comfort, Performance
February 24: Evaluating Your HVAC System’s Readiness to Mitigate the Spread of SARS-CoV-2
March 2: Latest in High-Performance Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems
March 4: Humidity Control I: Design Tips and Traps
March 25: Save 40% by Complying with Standard 90.1-2019
April 6: Commercial Building Energy Audits – Part I
April 13: Commercial Building Energy Audits – Part II
April 20: Air-to-Air Energy Recovery Fundamentals
April 22: V in HVAC – What, Why, Where, How, and How Much
May 4: An Introduction to ASHRAE Existing Building Commissioning
May 11: Fundamentals of Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) for Air and Surface Disinfection
May 20: Introduction to BACnet
June 1: Principles of Building Commissioning: ASHRAE Guideline 0 and Standard 202
June 8: Powering with Renewable Resources: Thermal Energy Storage
How to kill enveloped viruses in just 30 minutes
Poor ventilation in closed indoor environments is associated with increased transmission of respiratory infections. There have been numerous SARS-CoV-2 transmission events associated with closed spaces, including some from pre-symptomatic cases. The role of ventilation in preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission is not well-defined – that is, by preventing dispersal of infectious particles in small waterdrops to minimise the risk of transmission or preventing transfer of an infectious dose to susceptible individuals.
SARS-CoV-2 is thought to be primarily transmitted through large respiratory droplets; however, an increasing number of outbreak reports implicate the role of aerosols in SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks. Aerosols consist of small droplets and droplet nuclei, which remain in the air for longer than large droplets. Studies indicate that SARS-CoV-2 particles can remain infectious on various materials, such as air conditioning surfaces in air ducts and air handlers, as well as in aerosols in indoor environments, with the duration of infectivity depending on temperature and humidity.
While HVAC coatings are often the most cost-efficient insurance for the longevity of your air-handling system, there’s much more to them than just increasing your building systems’ lifespan. The rising demand for antimicrobial coatings was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and tenants worried about their wellbeing from airborne diseases. In the same category, antimicrobial coatings can make a huge difference for indoor air quality and occupant safety. There are a number of HVAC coatings that drive energy savings, primarily desiccant-coatings.
Found on AHU heat exchangers, coils and in duct systems, they enable recovering heat and moisture, which then helps building owners to save on operational cost. Recent studies have uncovered an extreme antimicrobial effect of desiccant coating systems, in high relative humidity, as present in air conditioning systems. It appears the surfactants can break the exterior protein of a virus or bacteria strain. Once the protein is destroyed, the virus cannot attach to cells and transfer or alter human ribonucleic acid (RNA).
In many circumstances, once microbes have begun to proliferate on a painted surface, constant cleaning and disinfecting is required to keep growth under control, which is highly unwanted inside an air conditioning system. Recognising that the ability to clean constantly is unreasonable in most air conditioning systems, the best weapon against corrosion and microbial growth is an antimicrobial paint that prevents growth of, or eliminates, bacteria and viruses. Both the coating and the possible active ingredient should not produce any environmental, safety or health issues during application. Any off-gas from the film is unwanted, because ideally, the coating must be applied to air conditioning systems in operation without any concern of release of poisonous additives.
Antimicrobial efficacy based on silver ions
Generally, an antimicrobial surface contains an additive, like Agion, which inhibits the antimicrobial property that is composed primarily of silver ions, which have been proven in antimicrobial use throughout history. It incorporates silver ions inside a zeolite carrier, providing an area for these ions to exchange with other positively charged ions – often sodium – from the moisture in the environment.
Once exchanged, these now “free” silver ions are attracted to oppositely charged hydrogen ions, commonly found in most bacteria and microbes. The bacteria and microbes’ respiration and growth are now abruptly halted, since the hydrogen ions are no longer available. Silver based antimicrobial coatings contain a pesticide additive that evaporates slowly from the coating surface and raises questions on the durability of discharge. In Europe and North America, these coatings require a registration by the government authorities.
Antimicrobial efficacy based on desiccation
Enveloped viruses, like the H1N1 influenza virus, Corona (COVID-19) and bacteria have membranes of protein and enzymes to protect the infecting contents. The spreading of the viruses and bacteria in closed spaces and air conditioning systems is carried out by smaller aerosols. Alternative antimicrobial functionality is based on desiccation, a physical process to extract the moisture from the virus and bacteria particles. This approach may seem relatively primitive; however, it is extremely effective in slowing down or even preventing microbes from spreading and transmission. This method is similar to other physical treatments, such as UV irradiation, filtering and heating.
Desiccant coatings inactivate a wide variety of microbes that adhere to the surface through their hydrophilic surface properties. The antiviral functionality of the coating has been tested on the Phi6 virus, which is commonly used as surrogate for enveloped Corona viruses.
A recent study shows that a desiccant coating can have an extremely quick kill-rate of enveloped viruses after just 30 minutes.
Further studies have proven that strong antimicrobial working was additionally confirmed. Surface activity results in full kill-rates of > 99,99%, which were confirmed on the following micro-organism strains:
- Klebsiella Pneumoniae
An important note should be added to this paper: No claim or assertion should be made that the antimicrobial properties in the coating will improve air quality or eliminate the threat of disease-causing microbes in the air supply system. A healthy indoor air system is highly dependent on a combination of design, maintenance and cleaning measurements that are incorporated in the air conditioning system and facility management procedures.
- Knibbs LD, Morawska L, Bell SC, Grzybowski P. Room ventilation and the risk of airborne infection transmission in 3 health care settings within a large teaching hospital. Am J Infect Control. 2011 Dec;39(10):866-72.
- Lu J, Gu J, Li K, Xu C, Su W, Lai Z, et al. COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with Air Conditioning in Restaurant, Guangzhou, China, 2020. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Apr 2;26(7).
- Rothe C, Schunk M, Sothmann P, Bretzel G, Froeschl G, Wallrauch C, et al. Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany. N Engl J Med. 2020 Mar 5;382(10):970-1.
- World Health Organization (WHO). Natural Ventilation for Infection Control in Health-Care Settings. 2009 [updated 4 May 2020].
- Ong SWX, Tan YK, Chia PY, Lee TH, Ng OT, Wong MSY, et al. Air, surface environmental, and personal protective equipment contamination by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from a symptomatic patient. Jama. 2020;323(16):1610-2.
- Bahl P, Doolan C, de Silva C, Chughtai AA, Bourouiba L, MacIntyre CR. Airborne or droplet precautions for health workers treating COVID-19? The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2020.
- Dietz L, Horve PF, Coil DA, Fretz M, Eisen JA, Van Den Wymelenberg K. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID19) Pandemic: Built Environment Considerations To Reduce Transmission. mSystems. 2020 Apr 7;5(2):e00245-20.
8 Evaluation of Phi6 Persistence and Suitability as an Enveloped Virus Surrogate Aquino de Carvalho, Nathalia; Stachler, Elyse N.; Cimabue, Nicole; Bibby, Kyle Environmental Science & Technology (2017), 51 (15), 8692-8700CODEN: ESTHAG; ISSN:0013-936X. (American Chemical Society)
Recent outbreaks involving enveloped viruses, such as Ebola virus and SARS COVID-2, have raised questions regarding the persistence of enveloped viruses in the water environment. Efforts have been made to find enveloped virus surrogates due to
challenges investigating viruses that require biosafety-level 3 or 4 handling. In this study, the enveloped bacteriophage Phi6 was evaluated as a surrogate for enveloped waterborne viruses. The persistence of Phi6 was tested in aq. conditions chosen based on previously published viral persistence studies. Our results demonstrated that the predicted T90 (time for 90% inactivation) of Phi6 under the 12 evaluated conditions varied from 24 minutes to 117 days depending on temperature, biological activity, and aq. media compn. Phi6 persistence was then compared with persistence values from other enveloped viruses reported in the literature. The apparent suitability of Phi6 as an enveloped virus surrogate was dependent on the temperature and compn. of the media tested. Of evaluated viruses, 33%, including all conditions considered, had T90 values greater than the 95% confidence interval for Phi6. Ultimately, these results highlight the variability of enveloped virus persistence in the environment and the value of working with the virus of interest for environmental persistence studies.
- The use of bacteriophages of the family Cystoviridae as surrogates for H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in persistence and inactivation studies
Adcock, Noreen J.; Rice, Eugene W.; Sivaganesan, Mano; Brown, Justin D.; Stallknecht, David E.; Swayne, David E.
Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A: Toxic/Hazardous Substances & Environmental Engineering (2009), 44 (13), 1362-1366CODEN: JATEF9; ISSN:1093-4529. (Taylor & Francis, Inc.)
Two bacteriophages, .vphi.6 and .vphi.8, were investigated as potential surrogates for H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in persistence and chlorine inactivation studies in water. In the persistence studies, .vphi.6 and .vphi.8 remained infectious at least as long as the H5N1 viruses at both 17 and 28 degrees C in fresh water, but results varied in salinated water. The bacteriophage .vphi.6 also exhibited a slightly higher chlorine resistance than that of the H5N1 viruses. Based upon these findings, the bacteriophages may have potential for use as surrogates in persistence and inactivation studies in fresh water.
- Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Persistence and Disinfection of Human Coronaviruses and Their Viral Surrogates in Water and Wastewater, Andrea I. Silverman and Alexandria B. Boehm, April 2020
- Determination of the Antiviral Activity of Water-Based Coating for Air Conditioning Applications against phi6 Bacteriophage using a Method Based on ISO 21702:2019, the laboratories of Industrial Microbiological Services Ltd at Pale Lane Hartley Wintney, Hants, RG27 8DH, UK. December 2020
The writer is with Aqua Aero Coatings and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
‘A wider pool of HVACR specialists, who understand the needs of museums, would be very advantageous’
Could you provide us with an overview on how the optimum climate can ensure the longevity of art pieces or cultural objects in museums, libraries and archives?
There has been an interesting history in the consideration of climate in museums and the impact of climate in museum collection, because there was a very important book published in 1978 by a British author, named Gary Thompson – it’s called The Museum Environment. That book was important in influencing the entire English-speaking world, and it outlined the kind of research done at that point in time. The book was divided into two halves – one was designed for energy engineers, and the other half was for conservation [specialists], who care for collections. It was a very forward-looking book.
The outcome of that book was that some climate specifications were created for temperature and humidity, 21 degrees C and 50% relative humidity, respectively. Those were taken as unyielding standards and accepted by people who cared for collections, because people understood this to be something that was important for their preservation. However, the realization that has been made since the publication of that book is that not every region in the world has the same outdoor environment, so trying to achieve the indoor environment that may be appropriate for a more humid country like England, or a city like London, might not be appropriate for a museum built in a dry part of the world [with] desert climate. The realization that the region in which the actual museum or collection resides is particularly important as a variable, has taken place.
The next thing is that materials that comprise museum objects include a whole range of different materials, and those materials don’t behave in exactly the same way in response to temperature and relative humidity. So, for example, archaeological [objects] that have been buried in salty water have been subject to salts remaining in the materials. When those materials are moved into museums, the salts left behind can be very reactive and responsive to changes in relative humidity. We know archaeological metals and ceramics and some stone materials can have particular sensitivities, and certain kinds of archaeological and historical glass have particular sensitivities, and other materials like ivory and wood are sensitive to changes in relative humidity.
I would say in the last 25 years, more research has been done, and continuing research is going on now, to look at exactly what kind of damage is created when you did not have tightly controlled temperature and relative humidity. One major study was by the Smithsonian Institution in the United States, another by the Canadian Conservation Institute and yet another significant study was by Getty in Los Angeles, called ‘Managing Collection Environment’, and all of the studies are designed to look at whether, or not, you can safely relax the climate standards for museums, so that the relative humidity could be actually 35-60%. There is wide agreement that 1) it depends on the climate where the museum is, because collections acclimate to the environment they are in to a certain extent, and 2) it depends on what are the collection materials, and 3) everyone agrees that the most important thing is to only permit change in relative humidity, if it happens gradually. What is dangerous for a collection is one day your relative humidity is 15% and the next day it’s 60%, because that’s a very dramatic shift.
In view of the research that has been carried out on the effects of relative humidity and temperature, has there been a move to develop minimum standards that global or regional museums, and similar developments, would have to comply with? Or is it mostly an independent move by galleries that impose their own quality standards for their collections?
It’s a good question. So, museums develop their own standards, and they work to comply with those standards. As you might imagine, standards for climate become crucial when one museum lends materials to another museum. If the Louvre maintains a certain climate for materials and sends them to Abu Dhabi, they are going to be very aware of how the museum in Abu Dhabi maintains the climate around those collections, so museums are very active in developing loan documents, and they specify climate within those loan documents.
Also, in 2014, the ‘Declaration on Environmental Guidelines’ on the museum environment was endorsed by two professional organisations. One is called ‘International Institute for Conservation’ and the other is ‘International Council on Museums – Conservation Committee’. The Declaration is available online; it actually redefines the international standards.
In such cases, management is very aware of the importance of implementing these standards in terms of building design and equipment choice, but, given the unique requirements, are the FM and operations personnel aware and properly trained on these issues, as well?
It is a case-by-case basis. I would say larger museums with larger operating budgets – they do have a facilities manager, who has a certain kind of sensitivity to the task of preserving the collection. They understand that the climate and HVAC systems installed need to be those that can be adjusted to maintain a safe climate for the collection.
I have visited smaller museums that don’t have the expertise or the resources to necessarily support the kinds of climate requirements that museums demand. Also, there are individuals who create their own specialization – they tend to be HVAC engineers and HVAC specialists with a particular interest in museums and libraries and archives, places that hold important collections. They then can be hired by smaller institutions that don’t have their own expertise in-house. Or they can hire those experts to work with FM that they do have on staff, who may want more information about the specialized needs.
I think, in particular, having a wider pool of educated HVAC specialists, who understand the needs of museums and collection, would be very advantageous. It would help smaller museums that cannot have these people on staff.
Do you believe that a collaborative approach would move the dial in terms of cultivating more specialists who are aware of the unique requirements of such a development?
Yes, I see more room for collaboration. I think it would be beneficial if facilities engineers were open to working with conservators and curators and collections managers, because there’s a lot we can learn from each other. I always try to invite a facilities engineer into my class and have them talk about how they make decisions, so my students can be in dialog with them. I put collections people and facilities people in dialog.