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Air filtration and industrial ventilation are important considerations when creating a ventilation design for a warehouse setting. In addition, these factors can have a significant impact on your employees’ health & productivity, energy bills, and the condition of your inventory. Therefore, it’s important to take ventilation considerations when creating an MEP design for your house. Thankfully, this article will take you through some of the most important factors you need to consider when it comes to HVAC design for warehouses.
- Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Indoor air quality is the level of airborne contaminants in a building’s indoor air. In a warehouse setting, indoor pollutants are mainly caused by exhaust from the material handler. As a result, harmful respirable particulates and carbon monoxide can build up if the warehouse doesn’t have adequate ventilation.
In some instances, indoor pollution in warehouses can be caused by materials stored in the facility like VOCs produced by paints, plastics, and foams, or dust from loose storage of powder/ bulk materials.
- Energy Consumption
The design of a ventilation system for a warehouse environment should be energy efficient. For instance, you can use high-volume, low-speed fans to reduce the dependence on the HVAC system and improve temperature control. The layout and mechanical design of warehouses will have a significant impact on the facility’s energy consumption and overall efficiency.
- Material Storage Requirements
While designing ventilation for a warehouse facility, you have to consider the humidity and temperature requirements for proper storage. Some materials such as pharmaceuticals, paper products, or dry goods require humidity and temperature levels to stay within a specific range. While this may not be an issue with some products like construction materials, it’s important to ensure that a warehouse ventilation system maintains appropriate humidity levels and indoor temperatures.
- Occupancy rates & Activities
Proper ventilation design for warehouses promotes the health, safety, and comfort of people working in the facility. For that, it’s important to consider the number of employees that will be occupying the space and the amount of time they’ll spend in the building. If the occupancy rate is high and employees will be spending a long time in the warehouse, the ventilation system will be more critical since the work demands will be more strenuous.
- Exhaust/ Makeup Air Balance
Exhausting more air than the HVAC system of your warehouse is bringing in can create a negative pressure condition in the facility. On the other hand, if the system brings in more air than you exhaust, the inside pressure will be more than the atmospheric pressure (positive pressure condition). To avoid these issues, it’s important to properly balance makeup and exhaust air rates for your warehouse facility.
If fresh air is primarily entering the building through open windows, doors, and louver systems, the indoor pressure will balance naturally. However, if the facility is tightly-sealed, your ventilation design for the warehouse will need a mechanical makeup air system to draw fresh air and compensate for the air being exhausted.
- Filtration requirements
Most warehouses use basic principles of industrial ventilation to exhaust stagnant air and bring fresh air into the building. However, it’s recommended that you add a filtration system to the ventilation design to improve IAQ (Indoor Air Quality). This can be accomplished by using supply fans to remove airborne contaminants like pollen and dust from the intake air.
Warehouses rarely generate enough emissions that need filtration on the exhaust fans. Nonetheless, if excessive particulates and fumes accumulate in the breathing zone because of the material handler, it’s good to use portable air purifiers in spaces where people are working.
- Room Refresh Rates Requirements (CFM)
The air change rate or room refresh rate is the rate at which fresh outdoor air is drawn into the building. It’s usually expressed as ACH or Air changes per hour in a room. For warehouses, room refresh rates are usually set between 6 and 30 changes per hour.
According to ASHRAE, the minimum ventilation rates for institutional and commercial buildings, expressed in CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) of airflow per square footage, depends on the room size, occupancy, and space type. The recommended minimum ventilation rate for warehouses by ASHRAE is 0.06 CFM per sq ft. However, this rate must be adjusted based on other factors like indoor air quality and occupancy rate. For instance, if the room has excessive fumes from the material handler, the room refresh rates should be higher to compensate.
- Layout & Airflow Patterns
After calculating the CFM and optimal air change rate for your warehouse, the next step is to consider how air will flow through the space. In general, warehouse ventilation involves a combination of the sidewall or rooftop exhaust fans, wall louvers, rooftop gravity vents, and sidewall or rooftop supply fans. These systems can be positioned to allow different airflow patterns in the warehouse. For instance, you can put exhaust fans along one sidewall and wall louvers or supply fans along the opposite wall to form a continuous crossflow pattern. Alternatively, you can put supply fans on both sidewalls and exhaust fans along the center roof line to exhaust warm air from the ceiling and bring in cool air from the sides.
In addition, the design of airflow patterns should keep air circulating through all parts of the warehouse and remove airborne pollutants from the indoor breathing zone for better humidity and temperature control.
How Innodez can help with Ventilation design for warehouses!
Warehouses and distribution centers play a crucial role in the development of our national economy. For that reason, it’s important to ensure the best quality conditions for goods, materials, and employees working in these facilities. At Innodez Design and Engineering, we create HVAC designs for warehouses to deliver the highest quality solutions. Our expert team of MEP engineers will work tirelessly to provide and innovate a long-term and cost-effective HVAC system for your warehouse in California.