California City Embraces UV-C Technology for HVAC Systems

Operational management of buildings

To slow the spread of COVID-19 and improve indoor air quality in urban buildings, Santa Clarita, California, is investing in UV-C technology.

By Dave Lubach, Editor-in-Chief


Ultraviolet light (UV-C) disinfection has become a popular option for facility managers to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the past 14 months.

The Santa Clarita, California city government has fully embraced the use of UV-C to minimize the spread of COVID. The technology is now incorporated into the HVAC systems of the city’s buildings, either by retrofitting existing systems or installing new ones. Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste has long been a proponent of the technology.

Santa Clarita town hall

“One of the biggest problems (with the spread of COVID) is that as we make progress with buildings, we continue to work to make them more insulated from the outside,” says Weste. “They are more closed off, whether we don’t want to lose heat, keep the cold out or keep the cold in. Whatever you do, you seal off the buildings that no air passes through. It’s stale air. “

With air disinfection technology, an HVAC system ensures cleaner air and better ventilation in the building. A recent study found that UV-C units can reduce colony-forming units by 97.3 percent.

Located north of Los Angeles, Santa Clarita has also been hit by wildfires, another phenomenon that affects air quality.

Weste says Santa Clarita is installing UV-C in existing HVAC systems or incorporating it into new HVAC systems in 21 city buildings. Sixteen buildings have already been completed and the rest are expected to be completed by the end of the year. Included in the new build is a sheriff’s office, library, and new community center – all the amenities regularly stocked with workers and city dwellers moving in and out of the buildings all day long. The town hall was the first building to be addressed. It was retrofitted with UV-C for a modest $ 6,000.

Weste lives in one of the states with the most restrictive COVID policies in the country and wants to keep the airflow in the city’s buildings as clean as possible. She also wants her constituents to be able to trust that their city’s buildings are safe.

“Viruses mutate faster than anything I can think of,” she says. ‘They mutate all the time. If so, what are you going to do, keep looking for new photos? That’s part of the solution. But the best we can do is get ahead of it by not giving it a place to grow. “

Santa Clarita was aggressive in spreading the word about UVC technology and its benefits. UV-C is an important industry in Santa Clarita. In addition to having a number of local businesses that specialize in implementing and designing the technology, Weste is trying to convince local businesses to also embrace a technology that should deliver benefits far beyond COVID.

“The hardest part is getting people to know what we already have an answer to (about providing cleaner indoor air),” she says. The answer is not that everyone is locked up at home. The answer is working with the medical world and making sure people are safe. “

Dave Lubach is editor-in-chief, Facilities Group.

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