Atlanta Luxury Hotel Gives Foul Odors The Shaft

| by Neal Walsh
Atlanta Luxury Hotel Gives Foul Odors The Shaft

Until recently, fixing leaky ventilation shafts has been a non-starter for most commercial buildings across the country. The expense and disruptive demolition typically involved in finding, accessing and sealing those leaks made remediation measures impractical at best. As a result, most buildings in the U.S. today are plagued by the poor indoor air quality and high-energy usage issues that come from improper ventilation. But now that a simple, non-intrusive solution, in the form of aerosol-based duct sealing, is available, property owners are addressing the problems head on.

Case in point: While the JW Marriott hotel in Atlanta’s affluent Buckhead district has always been a model of elegance and luxury, owners of the 28 year-old building continued to struggle with issues related to a poorly designed ventilation system. Inadequate exhaust led to musty odors that plagued the building for years. With long ventilation shafts embedded behind the building’s structure, accessing and repairing the problem had proven to be logistically and economically impossible.

A consultant brought in to evaluate the situation found that exhaust levels differed substantially from floor to floor. Top floors received the full 40 CFM of exhaust they were designed to pull, while bottom floors received only 5 CFM or less. The consultant’s recommended solution: start by cleaning and sealing each of the ten 23-story ventilation shafts running down the length of the building.

After reviewing options, the hotel engineers decided aeroseal duct sealing was the obvious choice for the job.

“We looked at several options and the aeroseal technology stood out as being the most economical and non-intrusive process,” said Frank Atkins, the hotel’s director of engineering.

The call went out to the experts at Aeroseal Southeast, a commercial duct cleaning and sealing service provider. The Aeroseal Southeast team guaranteed they could do the work with minimal disruption to the building and to normal hotel operations. All sealing was done on Mondays – the hotel’s quietest day. Guests were also strategically booked into rooms away from the ventilation shafts being sealing that day.

Once prep work was completed, it took only about one hour to seal each shaft. Using his own testing equipment, the hotel’s lead engineer confirmed what the computerized aeroseal system indicated: average leakage was reduced from 397 CFM down to 62 CFM…and during the entire process, few if any guests were even aware that such a significant remediation process was taking place.

In the end, the musty odors that plagued the hotel for years are now gone – the facility managers expect their energy bill to reflect thousands of dollars in annual savings as well.

“Aerosealing the ductwork proved to be a significant aide in improving the overall ventilation of the building,” said Atkins. “I think it’s a good technology, and it proved to be a key component to the overall strategy used to solve our ventilation issues.”

Topics: HVAC - Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Insulation, Ventilation

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