What challenges HVAC industry faces after COVID-19 pandemic – Business

The HVAC industry is one of the most important disciplines in the construction industry and its progress and activities are closely linked.

Results from the latest survey conducted by the CHAS UK platform have shown that in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced overall business revenues by 70%, halted 40% of business operations and postponed 75% of ongoing projects. The survey also found that 45% of stakeholders feel that their business is under threat from the outbreak.

The research essentially reflects the damaging impact of COVID-19 on the HVAC industry. However, there has been a noticeable recovery since the first quarter of 2021, reflected in the projects – tenders and tenders – launched by both the private and public sectors. The research shows that the 2020 downturn is likely to have had an impact on construction rates in 2021 as several parties aim to recover their losses to recover from the health crisis.

The importance of air filtration

The importance of air filtration has become increasingly apparent in the wake of the pandemic. Homeowners, as well as commercial developers, have analyzed the minimum levels of filtration required to control the spread of the coronavirus. It is a reality that the current filters installed in AC units can increase the spread of the virus in the air. To increase filtration levels, HVAC professionals consider the impact this will have on the equipment we select for projects.

When the rate of air filtration is increased, it causes higher pressure losses that affect the static pressure of the circulating air fans, which may also need to be replaced. This applies to both small split units and large air handling units. As a result, manufacturers have started designing separate central air filtration units that can be mounted in-line with return air ducts or simply placed in an occupied space, such as a simple plug-and-play floor standing unit. The result of this is that clients and advisors make decisions easier and faster.

Future air conditioning

The pandemic has undoubtedly shed light on new requirements to be considered for the future design of air conditioning systems in buildings. One of those important requirements is to establish provisions for the installation of new air filtration units needed in times of pandemics and outbreaks. Such facilities may include providing adequate space for installation within a development and ensuring a reliable and consistent electrical power supply.
On the other hand, some customers subscribe to the principle of upgrading the filtration capabilities of their existing AC units – and this affects the size of the unit as the filtration level affects the static pressure of the fans, in addition to the increased noise level.

Consequently, future designs may include provisions in AC units to increase the filtration level without the need to replace the air fans. However, this can affect how operational the unit can be, especially when aging is taken into account.

We have also seen a trend towards the use of hygienic AC units in some new government projects, in case similar or new waves of the pandemic strike. The reason for this is to avoid any kind of modification to existing AC units, to avoid any kind of disturbance in the building, while maintaining acceptable levels of thermal comfort indoors.

Impact of new technical requirements

The new technical requirements developed to address the pandemic and minimize infections have had a major impact on budgets for HVAC works. Increasing filtration levels and accounting for multiple future provisional items, in addition to the use of sanitation equipment, have all contributed to a direct increase in the cost of HVAC work.

In addition, new recommendations have been published by the ASHRAE task force that provide guidance on the minimum design requirements established to control the spread of the virus. This has been a concern for most building owners and developers, as budget increases could be alarming due to their own losses from the outbreak.

Material transport

Numerous HVAC manufacturing facilities were closed during the height of the pandemic, and this led to a shortage of air conditioning units and impacted project execution times – all in addition to the constraints caused by restrictions on flights and shipping processes during lockdowns and closures. . All of these factors contributed to an increase in AC unit prices as efforts to recover industry losses.

On the other hand, while we saw disruptions in shipping and price increases due to precautions taken globally, material suppliers recognized the importance of material storage and expanded their inventories across the board. This is especially important in the GCC area where key materials such as chillers, cooling towers, pumps, etc. must be sourced entirely from the country of origin. The delay in shipment had an impact on the progress of the implementation of the projects and caused certain gaps due to lack of material.

In turn, while the pandemic has had a significant impact on the economic development and advancement of the HVAC industry, we have seen the adjustment in our design and development approaches as an additional, but positive, impact. With progress in vaccine rollouts across the Middle East and beyond, it appears the storm has weathered and a positive – if not new – roadmap awaits us.

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