Mile High CRE Features CFC & Avenida Case Study on Improving Safety of Amenity Spaces
By Autymn Rubal, special projects manager with CFC Construction
During a global pandemic, community gathering spaces become higher-risk environments. Communities worldwide need to determine best practices for safely reopening these spaces. The hurdles to reopening appear even more challenging against the backdrop of an economic recession, when every business must strive to make careful decisions about how and where to invest their capital.
To create the safer gathering spaces needed for a post-COVID world, changes are needed. But what changes will have an impact? What are their pros and cons? What return on investment (ROI) can businesses expect from making these changes? And what might these changes even look like? Communities and businesses worldwide will be working to find solutions and leading practices for many years but the good news is that many have already begun the process, and we all have the ability to learn from their experiences. A recent Avenida Partners (Avenida) project that looked to improve the amenity spaces in one of its communities, offers a compelling case study. Illustrating that smart, targeted investments in the right areas can deliver significant ROI.
Understanding the Problem
Avenida is a dedicated developer and owner of resort-style active adult apartment communities for adults age 55 and better. Since 2008, Avenida has been diligently perfecting the design, development, and operational specifications and processes that help them create the right community fit. Avenida has a population of 55+ and better and thus has a higher percentage of residents with pre-existing conditions — two categories thought to be more vulnerable to COVID-19. As a result, Avenida is eager to improve its amenity spaces to better support the health and safety of its residents. That’s why Avenida recently hired the CFC Construction Special Projects Group to evaluate the amenity spaces at its resort-style Lakewood Active Adult Community.
Making a Recommendation: Ionization
Working together, CFC’s Special Project Group and MEP Engineers evaluated the filtration, dilution and treatment options and ultimately decided on the addition of ionization. This option provided Avenida with the largest ROI. It also allowed Avenida to install the increased safety measures with only limited impact to the building’s operations.
What are the benefits of ionization that drove the project team’s recommendation? In summary, ionization:
- Is lab-tested to kill or inactivate many viruses, including SARS-CoV-2
- Sends ions into spaces to find and inactivate pathogens
- Doesn’t affect system efficiency and airflow
- Won’t damage unit coils
- Is energy-efficient
- Doesn’t require any maintenance
- Provides the highest ROI on an investment of $2,000 to $2,500 per ionization unit
Additionally, in Avenida’s case, ionization allowed its existing systems to remain in place, with no impact to the building systems’ efficiency. With all these factors taken into consideration, ionization turned out to be the right solution for Avenida.
Avenida’s Lakewood Active Adult Community will also realize a range of other benefits from ionization. Ionization will help with particle reduction, smoke control, allergen/asthma control, and odor neutralization by destroying volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It will kill a range of pathogens beyond viruses, including bacteria and mold. It will keep the AC system’s evaporator coils cleaner without an expensive UV system, reducing pressure loss and preventing “Dirty Sock Syndrome” (the foul-smelling
odor that can occur when an AC system is first turned on). By reducing outdoor air intake, ionization can also create energy savings of up to 30 percent.
In summary, ionization will provide Avenida with significant ROI for its money — without creating additional future costs or maintenance burden.
“In working with CFC, we were able to realize our goals in creating a healthier environment for our residents. Their wellness is our number one priority, and this ionization system in conjunction with the many other initiatives we have introduced this year will only help to enhance the overall living experience at Avenida,” shares Avenida’s Vice President of Operations, Dana Sohovich.
Implementing the Upgrades
A total of 12 new Global Plasma Solutions Ionization Devices (GPS-FC24-AC) were installed onto existing fan-powered boxes in the building’s amenity spaces. The devices are auto-cleaning, requiring no maintenance. The needlepoint bipolar ionization units are designed to handle up to 2,400 CFM. They also have multiple mounting options, including fan inlet, interior duct wall, or interior duct floor.
Helping to Set a New Standard
Avenida’s experience evaluating its options and implementing an ionization solution provide a helpful blueprint for other operators serving older adult populations. While different spaces, buildings, and environments may call for different solutions, Avenida’s case study helps to illustrate that targeted investment can indeed produce meaningful ROI. Forward-looking organizations like Avenida should be applauded for their commitment to improving their community gathering spaces to better support the health and wellness of their residents. As we rewrite the rules for safe community engagement, the drive and care they’ve shown are a valuable lesson for us all.
Featured in Mile High CRE here.