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How the use of AmbiAir can help Manage the Ventilation in Gyms

 

Client

Private Residents Gym, Dublin

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Our Solutions

Challenge

In the private gym of a Dublin city centre apartment complex they had, due to the pandemic, limited access to the gym to single, one-hour blocks and pre-booking was mandatory. They wanted to confirm whether these were sufficient or excessive protocols to ensure safe spaces for all residents using the gym and what low-cost procedures could be put in place once the data had been gathered and reviewed.

 

Approach

Ambisense visited the gym to review potential installation areas and develop an understanding of the Building Manager’s current procedures and concerns. There was air-conditioning in the gym, but it was only used to control the temperature and re-circulate the air. Once the best location for the AmbiAir device was determined, it was installed within just 5-minutes to ensure minimum disruption to gym users.

The plan was to gather the live data over the first week to see the current air quality conditions and if the ventilation was sufficient to ensure CO2 levels remained under 1000 ppm – as recommended by international standards. Once that baseline had been established, the machine learning in Ambilytics would be able to use it to assess whether the CO2 levels would rise above a pre-set threshold of 1000 ppm and send predictive alerts, helping the Building Manager to understand the situation in the gym and see what breaches may exist. This information would also allow the Building Manager to see if low-cost procedural changes to improve ventilation, some as simple as opening a window, would give safer gym conditions.

Results

The AmbiAir unit gathered enough data to create (and continuously improve) predictive alert accuracy and get a clear visual of the air conditions were in the gym.

Reviewing the data on the Ambilytics platform, we did notice some interesting events.

Firstly, we saw several spikes over 1000 ppm. This was to be expected as we expel more CO2 when exercising. As the gym was being limited to single household use at any one time it would normally not be an issue if ventilation were sufficient and levels returned to under 1000 ppm fairly rapidly and before the gym would next be in use. The CO2 concentrations rapidly increased (by over 1100 ppm in under 30 minutes) and in many cases returned to low-risk levels in under 30 minutes also. This showed that the space could be effectively ventilated if managed correctly.

Secondly, in a number of cases, it took over eight hours to get back to low-risk levels (under  800 ppm). This was a clear indication of poor, natural ventilation in the space when all windows and doors were closed. It was also confirmation that the air conditioner in the gym was not helping the ventilation in the gym, it was simply recirculating poor quality air.

 

 

 

 

Fig 1

Thirdly, the most concerning scenarios, were ones like the below in Fig 2

 

 

 

 

Fig 2

Here, we can see that during the day the CO2 levels remained over the 1000 ppm level for approximately two hours, from 14:15 to 16:15. With the 1-hour block booking system in place, that would potentially mean three different households were using the space with stale air – potentially carrying airborne disease and re-circulating them through the air conditioner, with no outside ventilation.

Based on the data gathered, it was clear that the gym could be ventilated sufficiently to be a low-risk space, however, this was not always happening. In discussion with the Building Manager, a couple of new, low-cost solutions were introduced.

  • After the 9 PM closing of the gym daily, the windows should be left open for a minimum of 30 minutes to ventilate the space, ready for the next morning use.
  • Windows should be left open at all times, if at all possible when the gym is in use to help ventilation.
  • There should be a minimum 15-minute ‘ventilation break’ between bookings and the use of the gym where all windows/doors are to be left open to assist with introducing improve the indoor air quality
  • The Building Manager will continue to use the AmbiAir data and predictive alerts to better control the air quality in the gym and ensure the new procedures are effectively creating a safer space for the residents to exercise in

Conclusion

As expected, exercising indoors rapidly increases the carbon dioxide levels in a confined space and creates an environment that increases the chances of airborne diseases spreading. Indoor air conditioning units that are not installed to draw in external air can assist with thermal comfort levels but do not help reduce risk in a space and in many cases, increase the risk levels by recirculating airborne diseases.

However, a data-focused approach let the Building Manager introduce very low-cost (in most cases free) and easy habits that greatly reduced risk in the gym and allowed them to see whether they were actually effective at increasing the ventilation to levels sufficient for the activities being carried out in that space.

 

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