Going Green Co Monitoring And Ventilation In Indoor Parking Structures

Carbon monoxide (CO) emissions from motor vehicles can have detrimental effects on the air quality inside indoor and subterranean parking garages. CO, an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas, is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. When indoor parking garages are not properly ventilated, CO concentrations can build to toxic levels. Also when CO emissions fill a space, the oxygen in that space is depleted, causing asphyxiation.

In an underground parking garage without adequate ventilation, CO can easily exceed NIOSH and OSHA recommendations for CO concentrations, and put workers, tenants and commuters at severe health and safety risks. Several states and cities, including Los Angeles, California, have passed laws to protect parking garage personnel from CO exposure.

Ventilation systems are a must for todays mixed use underground parking facilities, but they can be costly and a huge waste of energy to operate 24 hours, seven days a week. To minimize heat loss in winter, as well as conserve energy used by the ventilation fan motors, some parking garage owners began to operate ventilation systems only during peak traffic times, that is, during the morning and evening rush hours. This, however, failed to take into account instances in which a car was left idling or parking patterns varied from the norm. This explains the growing trend toward installation of CO monitoring and ventilation control systems in enclosed structures.

To save energy and help protect the environment, mechanical contractors and HVAC specialists are increasingly specifying the Carbon Monoxide Monitoring and Ventilation systems for both new and existing parking structures.

In Los Angeles it is required that the monitoring and ventilation control product installed have the certification of the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. A new improved ventilation fan controller is available that is certified for use in Los Angeles. It provides 10,000 square feet of coverage, comes with a two-year warranty and five-year sensor life.

Multiple controllers can be easily installed and connected without the need for a central panel by a simple series connection. LED indicator lights clearly show the status of the monitor and a large LCD display continually shows the CO levels being monitored. After a power loss or in the event of a malfunction, the controller activates the ventilation system.

The monitor is based on OSHA guidelines and various national, state, and local buildings codes designating that areas where toxic gases exist or may accumulate must be continually ventilated or have a gas monitoring device installed.

In the event that an unsafe level of CO is detected, the monitor will signal ventilation fans to cycle and operate until the areas atmosphere returns to a safe level. Electricity and heating expenses will be dramatically reduced because ventilation fans are only operating when needed as opposed to constantly. Energy savings of up to 85% can be achieved, and in most cases the return on the cost of the system can be realized in just one year or less.

This system can also be set up to alert facility and emergency personnel, via cell phone, in the case of dangerous concentrations of CO. Use of CO monitoring and ventilation can not only protect human health, but also can help prevent fire, as increased CO levels can sometimes predict the imminent threat of fire. BOLA TANGKAS