Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) technologies pushed by the pandemic May 2021

The pandemic has increased awareness of the importance of ventilation and maintaining good indoor air quality; particularly in the commercial space, whether it is for work, leisure, or public places.

HVAC manufacturers and building automation controls (BACS) companies have actively been looking to adopt products, solutions, and services with an aim to tackle the spread of the virus and help people have confidence in going back to commercial and public buildings in a safe way. 

The latest BSRIA World Air Conditioning and BACS studies published in March 2021, revealed that there has been a significant number of new products launched especially in the splits air conditioning market and DX coil air handling units (AHUs). The common theme amongst all the products is integration of ventilation with DX systems, air purification, smart sensors, controls and the adoption of enabling IoT (Internet of Things) as well as AI prediction control (Artificial Intelligence).  

It takes years to develop a new product or solution and consequently some of these were already in the making. The pandemic has created the perfect opportunity to launch or accelerate the development of these technologies. However, some of the technologies have been around for some time. BSRIA has been recording the sales of these for many years and its adoption has been steadily growing. However, during the pandemic, we have seen a surge of these units to meet the demand for immediate ventilation needs, especially in the healthcare sector.  The chart below as an example shows the ratio of AHUs with a DX coil vs chilled water systems and we expect to see changes in the ratio going forward. 

Solutions in the residential market are evolving much faster than the non-residential markets. In many countries businesses are slowly going back; particularly in the US, whilst in Europe, Africa, India and part of Asia are still in full or part lockdown. However, businesses are planning for the day when they can gradually or fully start bringing employees and customers back to their buildings. Some building owners are still in a “wait-and-see” mindset pending the number of workers physically returning to work.

It is evident that the combination of existing technologies with the new adaptations along with new technologies will be marketed by HVAC and controls manufacturers with emphasis on ventilation and IAQ, and building owners and operators need to review what the best solutions are for their specific buildings. It is too early to say which technologies and solutions are here to stay and which ones are just a fad that would be adopted by different verticals. 

BSRIA is currently undertaking a study looking at IAQ in commercial buildings in North America, which will be available in June. The market analysis will provide a full understanding of the solutions available on the market and where the demand and supply are heading based on interviews with a panel of respondents from selected verticals, new vs retrofit and the forecast in the next 5 years.  

The study will focus on Filtration, Air purification, Ventilation (DOAS), Controls and AC in connection with IAQ and as can be seen below we are expecting to see significant growth rates in the demand for filtration filters in key commercial applications such as Education, Hospitality and Offices over the next few years.

The main challenge will be reducing energy demand for buildings while achieving good ventilation rates and IAQ to make buildings safe.  The integration of buildings controls with HVAC systems will be key to ensuring the safe return to buildings.

Please contact BSRIA for further information about this study on:

European sales enquiries: BSRIA UK: ¦ +44 (0) 1344 465 540

America sales enquiries: BSRIA USA: ¦ +1 312 753 6803

China sales enquiries: BSRIA China: ¦ +86 10 6465 7707