Many a true word is spoken in jest. Just ask the folks at Filtech Inc., air filtration specialists located in Pittsburgh, PA, where they amusingly refer to themselves as “filter geeks.” Never have “filter geeks” been cooler than during the recent COVID-19 pandemic!
“Prior to the pandemic, many commercial office building, school and university, and industrial manufacturing facility owners and managers focused on the labor reduction savings that could be achieved by cutting down on the frequency of changing air filters,” states Andy Komar, Vice President of Filter Sales Division at Filtech. “Since the pandemic, more of those same customers are now focusing on higher air filtration efficiency to safeguard their facilities.”
“A filter’s job is not to save energy,” Komar continues. “Air cleanliness has to be the starting point.” And now more than ever, indoor air quality and air filtration to reduce the flow of particulates (including the tiny coronavirus particle) is top of facility owners’ and managers’ minds.
When a customer is looking to balance energy goals with air quality and health goals, Komar starts first and foremost with asking how clean they are trying to make the air and what the goal is for particle removal efficiency?
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) requires a MERV-13 (Minimum Efficiency Report Value) or better rating on air filters. The MERV measurement scale was designed in 1987 by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to report the effectiveness of air filters. The MERV scale ranges from 1 to 16 where the efficiency of trapping specific types and sizes of particles increases with the higher number. To achieve MERV-13, a filter must catch 90% of the particles in the 3-10 µm range, 85% of particles in the 1-3 µm range, and 50% of particles in the range of 0.3-1 µm range.
Other highly effective solutions include the use of ultraviolet (UV-C) light to prevent growth of bacteria and mold on cooling coils and HVAC ductwork and HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters that remove at least 99.7% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm).
If a customer’s current system cannot handle a high or higher efficiency filter due to air flow resistance or restriction, Filtech recommends using portable air cleaners. This economical solution has been in high demand throughout the pandemic and for facility owners and managers who are looking for ways to achieve better indoor air quality in their buildings, while also achieving low energy consumption goals.
Filtech has been a member and sponsor of the Green Building Alliance for the past five years, where they actively engage in projects that support the goals of the Pittsburgh 2030 District. They enjoy learning from the many different facility owners and managers and other partners about different initiatives they are creating and utilizing to meet the group’s goals. “The overall gain is incredible to see,” says Maggie Elinsky, Insides Sales and Technical Representative.
Sustainability efforts at Filtech are always top of mind. Working with customers to develop and optimize filter programs, rather than just selling filters, provides Filtech the opportunity to contribute to a cleaner environment in ways maybe never considered by a layperson who is not a “filter geek.” For example, a large office building or manufacturing facility or school might use hundreds or even thousands of air filters. Every time those filters are changed, dumpsters are filled. Recyclable or reclaimable air filters have not yet been developed as they are challenged with used filters full of dust and debris and particulates that simply cannot be recycled. By developing a program like Filtech did at the 64-story U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh, PA with Winthrop Management (a Pittsburgh 2030 District property partner), they not only saved the facility money, improved air quality, and reduced energy consumption, they also created less waste.
When Filtech approached Winthrop with a scientific approach to their every-two-year cycle of pocket filter replacement, they started with filter resistance readings. Through these initial and ongoing readings, they found these pocket filters on the street level and lower floors of the US Steel Tower did require changing every two years. They also found, however, that the further up they went in the building, the less often the pocket filters needed replaced. When they tested filters on the 34th floor, for example, they found those filters only needed changed every four to five years, because the air quality was so much cleaner above the street level. The highest floors only needed changed after six years! That is three times the life of what they were initially achieving on those floors and that many less filters in the dumpster and to the landfill!
Harry Elinsky, Sr. started Filtech 53 years ago and worked for many years as a one-man shop. Today, Filtech is run by second-generation owner Harry Elinsky, Jr. and has approximately 50 employees. Filtech is the premier air filtration specialist in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Eastern Ohio, and parts of New York. Filtech is a true partner to their customers, and they are proud of the impact they have had on the region. They are looking forward to increasing their emphasis and impact on improved indoor air quality and the ability to educate consumers on its importance.
Green Building Alliance appreciates Filtech’s expertise and contributions to our 2030 District partners and program, our region’s economy, and their overall support of sustainability to protect our climate and our health.