At the 2003 National Air Filtration Association (NAFA) convention, recipients of the association's Clean Air Awards were announced. The Clean Air Award is presented each year to those building owners and managers that take steps to improve the quality of their indoor air by increasing the level or efficiency of their air filtration system.

Candidates are nominated by both NAFA members and members of the facility management community for the award, and must submit detailed and specific steps taken towards cleaning the indoor environment through better air filtration. A NAFA Certified Air Filter Specialist inspects these actions. Awards are judged by the NAFA Clean Air Award Committee and each recipient receives a custom designed trophy and recognition for their efforts.

The 2003 award winners that utilize "best air filtration practices" in their buildings included three Texas companies.

CMS Energy Tower, Houston
The CMS Energy Tower is a 20-story, 382,000-square-foot facility located in Houston. Chief engineer, Paul Villarreal, and property manager, Mary Ann Dardis, have been instrumental in the retrofit project that has already expended $76,000 and has an additional $30,000 earmarked for retrofitting the building outdoor air units.

Already selected by BOMA as the 2002 Building of the Year in Houston, changes in the air handling units include installing new filter housings and upgrading prefilters from MERV 6 to MERV 8 and final filters from MERV 11 to MERV 14. Also, pressure gauges have been installed on the air handlers and are monitored and recorded on a monthly basis.

In addition to filtration upgrades, Villarreal has also installed demister filters on those units where outdoor air intake moisture was a problem, and units have been primed and coated with an antimicrobial coating to reduce the incidence of mold growth. All upgrade decisions were made with the goal of providing a better working environment for tenants and employees in the building.

Crescent Real Estate Services, Houston
Greenway Plaza is a group of several buildings just outside downtown Houston built in the 1960s to 1970s that encompass 5 million square feet of commercial office space in 10 buildings. Most buildings had a wire "fence" installed on the HVAC return with a synthetic blanket filter. Little attention was paid to velocity of the media.

Kevin Obaugh, chief engineer, took on the challenge of upgrading the filter system. Interiors of the units were cleaned and the filter return openings were sized for 400 fpm. Filter holding frames were sized for 4-inch deep filters. From 2000 to 2002, over 100 air handlers have been upgraded to MERV 11 filters using 12-inch-deep minipleat filters.

In addition, UVC lights have been installed in all of the outside air units for control of microbiological contamination. "One of the biggest benefits of the retrofit," said Obaugh, "has been the education of the engineering and building managers on the principles of properly applied air filtration and the positive effect it has on indoor air quality."

Hines Interests, Dallas
Hines Interests has been aggressively researching and implementing air filtration upgrades to its building since 9/11. Outdoor air intakes have been moved to above-ground level wherever possible, increasing air filtration to MERV 11 or better and installing UVC to outdoor air intake units.

Top-level management at Hines has initiated education and training for their building managers that includes in-service presentations of the NAFA Technology of Clean Air presentation. The NAFA Guide to Air Filtration is the fundamental tool used in understanding what air filtration means to the facility.

Poorly fitting filters and damaged filter racks and housings are being retrofitted and upgrades to MERV 11 filters have become a priority for Hines. While not targeted to a specific building, Hines Interests owners have made a commitment property-wide to increase the level of air filtration in their buildings, demonstrating the commitment to clean air.

Publication date: 11/17/2003