Mold is gross; there’s no way around it. It’s poisonous, it’s unhygienic and, according to ENERGY STAR, it costs the US lodging industry $68 million per year. Shocked? We were. That being said, by taking the right precautions and taking the time to read about how to treat mold once identified, your business can save a lot of ton of money on energy and have time to focus on more important (and less disgusting) matters. Here’s everything you need to save energy and fight the growth of mold!

What is mold?

Mold is caused by high humidity levels and can be a direct result of leaks in the building, oversized HVAC systems, poorly balanced air-handling systems, and insufficient moisture removal capacity of vapor-compression HVAC systems. In addition to looking really gross, mold can seriously damage and weaken wallpaper, carpet, wood and other materials in your building.

What you can do to prevent the buildup of mold

Ventilation, ventilation, ventilation! Having good ventilation in your hotel is the absolute best way to prevent the appearance of mold. In order to prevent mold growth, you have to lower the humidity levels throughout your building, providing adequate fresh air intake and preventing unwanted moisture accumulation. Ventilation systems do, however, consume about 7% of electricity used in hotels and motels, and since additional energy consumption equals additional energy costs, it’s important to install energy-saving technology wherever possible. Here are a few suggestions to get you on your way:

First of all, you may want to consider investing in a desiccant HVAC or dehumidification system. These systems are great for lowering humidity levels, improving indoor air quality and increasing building occupancy comfort. They have low maintenance costs and can use a variety of fuels including waste heat, natural gas or solar thermal energy in order to lower peak electric demand. They may be more expensive to operate than traditional HVAC systems, depending on utility rates.

Secondly, if you use scheduled ventilation or variable air-volume systems, you may be accidently supplying insufficient amounts of fresh air. This can also happen because of wind, stack effects or unbalanced supply and return fans. You can fix this by installing an outdoor-air measuring station that controls the outdoor-air damper, ensuring fresh-air supply. Caution! This could increase energy consumption and should be combined with other energy-saving measures including technologies like energy-efficient fan motors and variable speed drives.

Finally, sometimes insufficient ventilation air is a result of clogged intake screens that are difficult to access for inspection. So, make sure that all HVAC system air-supply diffusers, return registers and outside-air intakes are clean and unobstructed. Replace filters regularly and check economizers on a regular basis to see that dampers are functioning properly.

What to do if you find mold?

According to the Goodway blog, the presence of mold in an HVAC system is a common complaint and using a forced-air HVAC system is the fastest way to spread mold throughout a building. Since many hotels use a forced-air HVAC system, chances are good that at one point or another you’re going to have to face the facts, and the mold, head on.

In order to help business owners tackle the appearance of mold, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has compiled a FREE online resource called “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings”. This information guide is available to all building and business owners wanting to learn about, prevent and tackle the onslaught of mold in the workplace. The EPA also provides a detailed explanation of what to do should you find mold in your hotel.

Questions or comments about mold? Leave them below!

image credit: DriveaZ