Another trend Digney York has noticed in hotel renovations has been the air balancing of building exhaust systems. Although mostly unseen, this invisible element of the hotel’s construction is crucial to removing excess moisture from within the building. A well balanced system is very important for preventing mildew and mold problems in these highly susceptible areas. Balanced exhaust systems can also lead to saving money on your properties energy costs. In our experience the air balancing is commonly required by the local municipality and/or included in the property management companies brand standard. We feel that being informed on your options will help you make the best decision for your renovation.
Although this part of the renovation is not nearly as visible as the other changes, it is still a very important aspect of the construction that is often overlooked. Traditionally the balancing is done by a certified contractor and a report is provided once complete which is submitted for approval to the Hotel Management Company and/or local governing authority. Many requirements we have reviewed include “The Balancing Contractor shall be a certified member of the Associated Air Balance Council or the National Environmental Balancing Bureau and shall issue, upon receipt of contract, an A.A.B.C. National Project “Certification Performance Guarantee”. Although this is the most common route, many times it is not possible to do a full-out balance due to budget constraints, timing, or simply limitations of the existing equipment/devices.
DYA encountered one such situation in a recent hotel renovation project. In this instance, exhaust units on the roof were drawing too much air from the building. To balance the system, a certified contractor would have been hired to adjust all of the exhaust fan units on the roof and each and every one of the grill dampers throughout the building. This meant lengthening the schedule and adding cost to the project, thusly, an alternative cost-effective solution was needed to resolve the problem. After a good deal of research, the best solution was to install “Constant Airflow Regulators (CAR)” within the existing duct inlet. These devices have an internal flap which controls the flow of air by opening and closing based upon draw across the flap and the calibration of the unit. This means that all of the devices can be set to a predetermined air flow rate (CFM) and eliminate the need for a balancing contractor. Since almost all renovations require the installation or re-installation of the exhaust grills there is no need to extend the schedule and the only added cost is for the devices themselves. Since hotel companies’ brand standards and local municipality requirements are different, it is recommended that you check with both first to make sure this option will be accepted.
In addition to providing a cost effective option to balancing a hotel’s exhaust system, this solution can also save money by not only preventing mold, mildew, and moisture damage, but also increasing the overall efficiency of the building. In a recent one year study done by an independent firm, “Steven Winter Associates” found roughly a 6 month return on investment and a decrease of energy consumption of more than 25%. The savings shown in this example were achieved by eliminating a majority of the conditioned air that was wasted due to excessive air flow. By installing these devices, not only do you save money within the renovation by eliminating the need for expensive air balancing, you can also reduce operating costs of your building well into the future.