Author Archives: Stacy Wallace

Safe School Opening with Covid-Killing UV-C

One of the worst non-medical effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been its effect on school aged children.  Both educators and research scientists are finding that grades, learning retention, circadian rhythms/sleep cycles, and even general mental health are suffering as Zoom learning fails to fully fill the gap.  Meanwhile, the slowing of Covid spread and the steady increase in the number of Americans who have been vaccinated is making it more and more feasible to reopen schools.

Yet the danger of Covid-19 transmission may remain for some time. How can we reopen schools and be certain we’re providing as safe an environment as possible? There is a clear answer and taking advantage of it can potential be funded by available grants.

UV-C and a Technological Solution

A proven germicidal technology that is usually used to disinfect surfaces and liquids has now been adapted to clean room air and provides a way to reopen schools and other communal spaces. The technology? UV-C lighting.

Germicidal applications using UV-C light, a portion of the ultraviolet spectrum, have been an important part of fighting Covid spread, and were adopted widely prior to the pandemic. UV-C is used in a wide range of applications, from water treatment to sterilizing nail salon tools. Robots equipped with UV-C lights disinfect public transportation, hospitals, and other communal areas.

UV-C damages the DNA in cells to the point they can no longer function, leading to cell death. This kills over 99% of biological hazards, eliminating mold, bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus. No method kills such a wide range of biohazards and does it so effectively. UV-C is applied with LED light sources that emit in the proper range.

So how can this be used to keep classrooms safe? A new American-made system, the Air Guardian applies UV-C to air cleaning.

How Air Guardian Eliminates Covid

The Air Guardian unit is installed in a classroom or other group space, using the room’s existing electrical infrastructure. It then draws air in, passes it through advanced carbon glass HEPA filters and through a 20-foot-long tube. This tube is circuitous by design, keeping the Air Guardian’s size to just 2 feet by 4 feet. As the air travels through, LED’s constantly expose it to UV-C light. Independent testing shows the Air Guardian kills Covid-19 in 13 seconds.

This continuous cleansing operation while the room is occupied is the optimal approach for reducing spread of the virus, especially when combined with other practices such as masking and social distancing. This, combined with disinfectant spraying or wipe-downs, creates the best possible multilayer defense against Covid transmission. Plus, Air Guardian produces no odors and runs quietly.

Grant Funding for Reopening

Installation of the Air Guardian in schools is covered by the CARES Act as well as a number of other available funding sources. The recently passed American Rescue Plan includes $128.6 billion in block grants to states for K-12 education, and these funds may be used for additional sanitization and ventilation improvement costs, as well as other expenses associated with creating a safe school environment. This ensures you can welcome teachers and students back to class in safety, without being concerned about the cost.

What About After Covid?

Once the Covid-19 threat is extinguished—or, as some authorities predict, it becomes a less urgent threat on the order of seasonal flu—what role can a system like Air Guardian play in your school?

In an environment where germ transmission is easy and common, reducing the risk of even minor diseases will pay off with lower absentee rates, and the morale benefit from staff knowing they are protected. Air Guardian systems can continue to keep the air in classrooms clean and pathogen free at a low maintenance cost. The sole maintenance need is to change the carbon glass filters 1 or 2 times per year. Because the system is warranted for five years, you can have peace of mind about replacement costs. Lastly, you won’t have any training costs when you install the unit; teachers simply turn it on and let it run.

If you think the Air Guardian may be the right solution for your school, get in touch with Thayer Energy Solutions today and we can discuss your needs and this opportunity for increased Covid safety.

Air Guardian Filtration System: An Overview

If a business or organization wants to continue to welcome customers or clients, keep enough staff working to serve them, and even just stay open, they need to provide COVID-19 safety measures.  However, doing so usually involves methods that are labor intensive, depend on compliance from those who may not be eager to comply, etc.

Fortunately, the Air Guardian, a new American-made system that eliminates the COVID-19 virus from room air, is now available, and installing it may be funded by grants.

Filtration, Followed by Continuous Disinfection with UV-C

Though the Air Guardian filtration system includes advanced carbon glass HEPA filtering, the real heart of the system is continuous UV-C LED lights. The UV-C spectrum of ultraviolet light is used in a wide range of germicidal applications, from sterilizing nail salon tools to water treatment. Robots equipped with UV-C lights disinfect public transportation, hospitals, and other communal spaces.

Why? Because UV-C damages the DNA in cells to the point they can no longer function properly, leading to cell death. In fact, UV-C kills over 99% of biological hazards, eliminating mold, bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus. No method kills such a wide range of biohazards and does it so effectively.

Room air entering the Air Guardian filtration system passes through an advanced HEPA filter, then travels a route that is circuitous by design. The air is exposed to UV-C light constantly as it travels over 19 feet, purifying it.

In fact, third party testing found that the Air Guardian filtration system killed the Covid-19 virus in 13 seconds. And this continuous cleansing operation while the room is occupied is the optimal approach for reducing spread of the virus, especially when combined with other practices such as masking and social distancing.

The Whole Air Quality Package

In addition to being third party tested, the Air Guardian filtration system is EPA-registered and FDA-certified as a Class 1 Medical Device. It also meets the standards of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHREA).

Installation and care are simple. The Air Guardian filtration system connects into existing electrical infrastructure, so there will be no need for extensive rewiring. The unit itself is ceiling mounted, and only 2 feet by 4 feet. But it’s not just the small size that makes it unobtrusive. The Air Guardian filtration system is quiet, producing the same level of noise as natural bird calls or the ambient noise in a quiet suburb. Unlike some air cleaning systems, it doesn’t emit ozone or any chemicals, but simply cleans the air and recirculates it.

The sole maintenance need is to change the carbon glass filters 1 or 2 times per year, and the system comes with a five-year warranty. With an Air Guardian filtration system, you won’t need labor intensive solutions like frequent spraying. Simply turn it on and let it run.

Funding Help

Installation of the Air Guardian filtration system can be potentially covered by a number of available funding sources. Most importantly, installation in schools is covered by the CARES Act. This ensures you can welcome teachers and students back to class in safety.

If you think the Air Guardian filtration system may be the right COVID-19 safety solution for your facility, get in touch with Thayer today and we can discuss your needs and this opportunity for increased COVID-19 safety.

Lighting a Multi-Site Industrial Environment

Managing an industrial environment such as a multi-plant site or industrial park is a massive undertaking with thousands of details to attend to.  Even the lighting you choose can have an effect on your success and that of those working at the site.  Fortunately, making some informed decisions can save energy, increase productivity and brighten the outlook for everyone involved.

Optimizing Your Indoor Industrial Lighting

Theoretically, the lighting needs of a business could include almost anything, but for most (especially in an industrial setting) the focus will be on maximum productivity. To achieve this, it’s best to use natural light or simulate it as closely as possible. Let’s review some best practices for using natural and LED lighting in this manner:

  1. We mention LED lighting for a reason: LED’s last longer and use less energy than legacy lighting, are more durable than any other type, and an LED keeps the same brightness and color throughout its life.
  1. Be aware of the role of the circadian rhythm, which governs waking and sleeping cycles, and the role of light in it. The frequencies of natural daylight and artificial light that mimics it ensure that workers are more alert, more productive and tend to have better sleep.
  1. During daytime hours, use as much natural light as your building layouts allow, and consider increasing the area of windows and skylights. Installing modern controls will allow you to adjust the brightness of your artificial light based on the amount of natural light in the facility, saving energy and making the environment more aesthetically pleasing.
  1. When installing artificial lighting, choose lights that are in the Cool White range, with a color temperature of 4000 to 5000K. This range works well with the circadian rhythm, is available in a wide range of lighting options, and is also the best color range for detail work.

Balancing the Concerns of Different Tenants Related to Optimization

Normal Cool White general and detail lighting will be optimal for almost all industrial setups, but not all. If your site is in an industrial park or other multi-tenant site, you may be called on to make significant changes to fit the more specialized needs of an individual business. For example, if a client’s operation requires a great deal of color matching, they may need specialized lighting that has a high Color Rendering Index (CRI). When dealing with these issues, consider the following:

  1. If you’re in a remodel/build to suit situation, be sure to fully assess the tenant’s needs and make sure none of their expectations are missed or go undocumented. Make sure all items are incorporated in leases, contracts, etc.
  1. With every tenant, highlight the cost savings and production boost from optimized LED lighting.

Optimizing the Lighting in Outdoor Areas

The right outdoor lighting can be a major asset to an industrial site. It not only increases safety and security, but brightly lit exteriors make an area look more professional and inviting.

As inside the facility, LED lighting is best for exteriors. It’s available in a wide range of styles and applications, path accent lighting to towering pole lights. It’s also more attractive than halogen lighting (no sickly orange glow) and comes on instantly.

The color temperature of outdoor lighting is much less important than in the interior. It’s best to choose whatever temperature between 3,000 and 5,000 makes your facility look its best.

If non-LED lighting is currently installed in your outdoor areas, retrofit fixtures are available to provide LED light without the expense of a total replacement. Working with the experts at Thayer Energy Solutions will help you choose the right fixtures and arrange them for the optimal coverages.

Case Study: Stronghold Camp & Retreat

Dr. Danny Pierce had a simple four-word expression of his multi-faceted vision for Stronghold Camp & Retreat Center in Oregon, Illinois: Active, Green and Growing.  This Presbyterian ministry would be active in the community, active and growing in their faith, and care for the environment more than ever before.  To make the green part of the vision a reality, Pierce chose to work with Thayer Energy Solutions to create a more energy efficient facility.

The Stronghold Center was once the home of a Chicago newspaper publisher and his family, and was built to resemble a castle from Tudor-era Britain, complete with chapel, great hall, and even a secret passage. The castle was purchased by the Presbyterian church in 1962 to serve as a summer camp, which Pierce says is “still the heartbeat of Stronghold.” Summer camp programs for school age children, family camp and grandparent camp are conducted throughout the summer. Over the decades, the grounds have expanded to 360 acres, and Stronghold now functions as a year-round venue for conferences, retreats, and camping, and hosts an annual Olde English Faire. More than 10,000 people visit the camp annually.

Two years ago, Presbyterian churches began collecting and donating LED bulbs as part of a Light Up Stronghold campaign. The next step would be to replace the lighting technology throughout the camp, including the lights in seven residential buildings. Pierce and his team reached out to Elevate Energy in Chicago, a green consulting group that assists non-profit organizations. After conducting a property assessment, the experts at Elevate recommended Thayer Energy Solutions as the primary contractor for the retrofit.

In addition to providing and installing new lighting, the Thayer team assisted with the process of securing rebates and other funding from ComEd. “Patti Thayer was simply fantastic when it came to putting together a clear proposal and all the paperwork,” Pierce said. Rebate and credit funding from ComEd and other sources secured during this process covered $30,000 of the retrofit cost.

With funding secured and a plan in place, the installation process began in August and September of this year. A dedicated project manager oversaw the retrofit, and a technician worked onsite at Stronghold for three weeks.

Now that Stronghold’s lighting has gone 100% green, Pierce expects the investment to pay for itself in only 18 months. “I just can’t give Patti and her team enough credit for how well they handled this and the great results they produced. They’ve helped us become better stewards, the cost savings is just icing on the cake.”

Natural and Adjustable Lighting in Your Manufacturing Facility

It can be argued that there is no business where the margins matter more to success than in manufacturing.  Any drag on productivity hits directly at the profit you make on each manufactured piece.  Since you may be competing with overseas firms that pay their workforce a fraction on what you pay yours, you might already be starting at a disadvantage on expenses.

If your workforce is at its highest productivity, your company will be at its highest profitability. And as we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, lighting has a great effect on the wellbeing of workers. Let’s review why certain lighting has this effect, and how you can leverage it for your benefit and theirs.

The Right Lighting Increases Productivity and Wellbeing

In manufacturing—especially if you’re running a multi-shift operation—keeping workers alert and productive is crucial, but also a challenge. No one can really afford sleepy workers, and workers can’t afford to be less than sharp around manufacturing machinery.

Our alertness and productivity is related to the circadian rhythm, which governs our waking and sleeping cycles and is tied to the frequencies found in daylight. When humans are exposed during their workday to either natural daylight or lighting that mimics it, they are more alert, tend to sleep better, and are more productive. As little as 15 minutes of natural light exposure causes the body to release endorphins, and a study by the World Green Building Council found that natural daylight increased worker productivity by 18%.

The right lighting also reduces eye strain, and the headaches, minor medical issues and production mistakes that result from it.

Finding the Right Color

It’s a simple matter to bring natural daylight into your space via skylights and windows. If you’re in a situation where you’re renovating or constructing a new facility, add as many windows as possible. But how do we add “daylight” to the workspace in non-daylight hours? LED lighting is the best choice, because it uses far less power than incandescent lighting, lasts far longer, and keeps the same brightness and color throughout its life.

LED’s which can have a color temperature of 6500°K is a perfect match for daylight, but Cool White (4000 to 5000K) is available in more lighting options and has a similar effect on circadian rhythms. Daylight contains bluer wavelengths, and so do cool light types.

Even better, Cool White is the best color for detail work, so it will not only increase alertness and reduce eyestrain, but it will also reduce the number of mistakes since workers can see more clearly. Both the main lighting and task lighting in your facility should also be Cool White.

Adjusting Brightness

Dimming Systems can be complicated and expensive. We don’t frequently recommend them unless renovating or there is a higher budget.  A dimming system can help control and adjust the brightness of your lighting system based on the amount of natural light that is present. This will ensure that at any time of day or night, your workers are working in light that helps keep them alert but reduces the amount you spend on electricity during the day.

Lighting Large Projects

“Thayer did a fabulous job at our large retreat center.  This project will achieve a 720% ROI with a 1.4 years payback on this project!”

Dr. Danny Pierce, Executive Director, Stronghold Camp & Retreat Center

Game On!

“Our new lights have reduced our energy consumption by 50% and that’s a winner!  Thayer did a great job and we got VendingMisers and Strip Light Surge Protectors at no cost under the Utility small business incentive.”

Kyle Weber, Principal, Cataclysm Games and Collectibles, LLC

Educational Lighting

“Thayer provided advice on light colors geared to education – creating a more studious environment.  We replaced every bulb in our 60,000 square foot facility and have saved at least $10,000 over the last 12 months.”

Becky Chewing, Rockford Lutheran