We want hygienic features to be more democratic and the norm for all applications

An interview with Eurovent Certita Certification

In an interview with Systemair, Sylvain Courtey, President of Eurovent Certita Certification, discusses what makes a Eurovent-certified HAHU stand out from other programmes and why hygienic features should be a standard offering for air handling units in all types of applications, particularly in countries in the Middle East.

The Eurovent Hygienic Air Handling Unit (HAHU) certification, launched in 2016, is an optional certification to guarantee the hygienic aspects of AHUs for different applications. For Sylvain Courtey, President, Eurovent Certita Certification, the programme paves the way for making clean, healthy air more accessible across all project types.

Providing background on the programme, Courtey explains that the certification is based on the well-known, existing standards within the industry, such as VDI 6022-1 and DIN 1946-4. “In terms of content, we were using what was existing when we added the idea of the certification programme,” he says. “However, we tried to be very specific in the requirements.”

This process, Courtey adds, required much thorough work. “Unlike performance, which is easy to quantify in terms of kilowatt or decibels, when it comes to hygienic aspects, it was not as easy to be specific. This was the drawback of the existing standards, which provided useful guidelines but were not specific enough to be used directly in a certification process.”

Clear and straightforward definitions

An example of this, Courtey shares, is how Eurovent has defined the size of the doors an AHU should have to ensure maintenance personnel can enter and reach all the components to clean them. “It's very important in a hygienic AHU to maintain cleanliness,” he says. “All components must be accessible, so it should be easy for a person to clean it. In the VDI standards, they say that components have to be accessible, and that’s it. As part of Eurovent HAHU, we added a table that defines the precise sizes of the doors for every AHU, big or small.”

Having these clear and straightforward definitions helps in the design process as they can be encoded into the selection software. “Certified manufacturers have embedded the parameters in their selection software so it can build a hygienic unit based on our rules,” Courtey says. “Thus, customers can be 100% sure they receive a hygienic unit that complies with the requirements and guidelines in the certification manual as it is embedded in the selection programme, which is easy to select and design.”

Making hygiene the norm through an easy-to-understand 1-3 star rating system

Courtey says that an added value that the Eurovent HAHU certification offers the market is the simple and straightforward 1–3-star rating showcasing different levels of hygienic units for different applications. “Level 3 is for demanding hygienic applications such as food processes, pharmaceutical, white rooms, laboratories and such,” he explains. “Level 2 would be for the hospitals. But what is interesting is that Level 1 is for normal applications, such as offices and hotels. The idea is that we want hygienic features to be more democratic and highlight that this should be the norm for all applications. All AHUs should be hygienic. This should be a requirement for any end user. After all, every person deserves to live in a building where the AHU and ducts are clean and without mould and dust.”

This, Courtey underlines, is what the general public should expect from their HVAC system. “This first level of hygienic AHU is here to reward those manufacturers who would have to provide hygienic for normal buildings such as schools and hotels,” he adds.

Protecting the mark

It is important to note that the hygienic option is only available for units already certified by Eurovent, meaning their renowned “Air Handling Units” programme. “This means that all the performances must be checked, and the selection software must be regularly tested and audited,” says Courtey.

He explains that this is what truly sets apart the Eurovent HAHU certification. “For VDI and DIN, we are talking about standards, but these are not certification marks,” he says. “In theory, because VDI and DIN are not trademarks, anyone can provide certification or some sort of verification according to that standard. In fact, we also offer the certificate to the manufacturer because the market is asking for it, but for the Eurovent mark, it's different. Only Eurovent Certita Certification can deliver this mark, and we are protecting its use. If the manufacturer is not using this mark properly, claiming they are certified where they are not, we have a procedure to address this. We are protecting the value of this mark in the market because we want to save the market from false claims. Today, no such market surveillance checks exist to validate or ensure that products declared DIN or VDI compliant genuinely are, so the manufacturer is not protected.”

Filling the gaps and the growing call for clean air in the Middle East

Courtey believes the Eurovent HAHU certification provides a reliable basis, particularly for countries or regions that may need to be more advanced regarding minimum standards.

This is especially true for the Middle East, he adds, where indoor cooling is a necessity and not a luxury given the harsh ambient conditions. “Most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can impact their health, but indoor air pollution can also have significant and harmful health effects,” he says, pointing to major sources of indoor chemicals in homes, schools and offices, including fellow occupants, cooking, smoking, pets, building materials, furnishings, cleaning products, pesticides and mould, among other contaminants.

In addition to heat, Courtey says the Middle East climate must face the additional challenge of excessive moisture and sandstorms, which increase the particle concentration in the air and affect the dust loading of the air filters in the air handing units, posing an additional burden on the performance of the system. This, he says, further exacerbates the importance of investing in quality solutions, highlighting the importance of how hygienic air handling units’ enabling stakeholders to maintain cleanliness due to its accessibility.

Such features outlined within the hygienic certification, he says, are critical in the absence of standards, underlining the importance of using existing certifications to ensure better quality solutions are installed in buildings. “Eurovent, as an association, has been at the forefront of HVAC standards,” he says. “Before European standards on HVAC components or products were introduced, such as the EN standards, there were already Eurovent guidelines, and standards in place. A large part of European standards in the HVAC industry are coming from Eurovent books or documents because the association has been active since the 1950s. Eurovent has been at the forefront of standards for decades, committed to helping the industry improve. We are still doing that with all the working groups, providing and publishing new documents on benchmarks and standards. Certifications, such as Eurovent HAHU, are using these documents and applying them so we make sure what is used in the market is correct and aligned with the broader standards.”

While much of the emphasis has continued to be on energy efficiency, Courtey believes there has been a market awareness shift. “There are some groups that are pushing to include more indoor air quality and hygienic aspects in regulation,” he says. “As we continue to raise awareness in the market, it will also change the level of requirements. I strongly believe in educating the market on better IAQ standards. It will also help to improve the overall quality of HVAC solutions and our industry.”

Publication Date: 
Friday, 26 January 2024