Northbrook Park District’s Techny Center meets ventilation and filtration mark

The Northbrook Park District’s Techny Prairie Activity Center (TPAC) successfully met the stringent criteria set by UL Solutions and achieved the UL Verified Ventilation and Filtration Mark.

According to a news release, it is the first of its kind to measure the efficacy of ventilation and filtration systems in removing aerosols from enclosed spaces. TPAC is the first parks and recreation facility to undergo an assessment and receive this verification from UL Solutions.

The achievement is evidence of the park district’s steadfast commitment to promoting health and sustainability, Northbrook Park District Executive Director Chris Leiner said in the release.

“Our TPAC facility is a pioneer, not only in the park district industry but in overall commercial construction. It is one of the first net-zero energy buildings in Illinois, and now also the first parks and recreation building in the United States proven to meet this high mark in terms of air ventilation and filtration,” Leiner said. “Providing safer air quality is a top priority, and our innovative solutions, backed by independent third-party verification, support the well-being of our occupants and create a healthier environment for all.”

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, inadequate ventilation is the largest source of indoor air quality risk. Infectious aerosols — such as the viruses that cause COVID-19, influenza, RSV and the common cold — are a threat to public health due to their high transmissibility along with their ability to remain airborne for hours and migrate beyond 25 feet indoors, the release said.

However, building owners and operators could not historically verify real-world ventilation and filtration performance for aerosol removal until the UL Verified Ventilation and Filtration program was launched in March 2022 by UL Solutions, based in Northbrook, the release said.

“At a time where indoor air quality as well as energy efficiency should be a high priority for everyone, to make the statement that we lead in both is important,” said Northbrook Park District Trades Manager Jake Vest. “This shows we are committed to our mission of serving the public by providing health and sustainability, putting us at the forefront of publicly provided services.”

According to the release, the UL Solutions program involves an on-site assessment of ventilation and filtration performance combined with a review of the data.

“The Northbrook Park District’s Techny Prairie Activity Center has demonstrated a clear commitment to a healthier indoor environment by earning the first UL Verified Ventilation and Filtration Mark for a parks and recreation facility,” said Joel Ritschel, director of Enterprise Sustainability in the Healthy Buildings group at UL Solutions. “This achievement offers members of the community a source of reassurance when it comes to the indoor air quality where they exercise and play, backed by third-party verification from UL Solutions.”

All four high-occupancy areas tested at TPAC — both group fitness rooms and two offices — successfully exceeded the 99% aerosol removal threshold set by the UL Solutions program, the release said.

The cutting-edge HVAC technology used at TPAC was purposefully engineered to strike that balance, Vest said.

“We have done quite a bit of testing and data analysis to ensure that we bring in the minimum amount of outside air while ensuring optimal quality,” Vest said. “That intersection of indoor air quality and energy efficiency is the goal you want not just for TPAC, but for any facility, whether public or private.”

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