Battling COVID with air filters

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Our CEO and owner, Bill Hayward was featured in the Monterey Herald talking about the importance of clean air and ventilation in combatting COVID-19 and other viruses in our homes.  Read below.

The age of clean air is upon us.

Air quality has never been as scrutinized as it has been during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People have a new expectation about the air they breathe,” said Bill Hayward, whose family has owned Hayward Lumber for more than a century. “The truth is we’ve had resources for 40 years to minimize the viruses and particles that float around in the air indoors.”

While COVID-19 cases are declining in the United States, the virus remains a threat. It is transmitted through the air — often indoors where air doesn’t circulate as well or at all.

Hayward has become one of the biggest advocates of the use of air filters to battle the disease. He became CEO of Hayward Lumber in 1983 and currently the company has lumberyards and design centers from Redwood City to Santa Barbara. But in recent years, Hayward has also focused on providing a safe indoor environment for families. While the devices to filter air have been out there, Hayward felt no one really paid attention to the damage unfiltered air could cause until the pandemic struck.

“It sounds like magic,” Hayward said. “But HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air)  filters have been around for decades. People are waking up to the importance of indoor air. All of a sudden, we’re paying attention to the air we breathe.”

Hayward has been working since last June with Dr. Mark Hernandez, an infectious disease expert for 27 years in Colorado, to help get people back indoors safely in Monterey County with devices designed to purify the air.

“People don’t change until there is an example in their backyards,” Hayward said. “I asked Dr. Hernandez to come out last summer to demonstrate. The lockdown prevented him from coming until January.”

Hayward felt the CDC had lagged with the best practices advocated by infectious disease experts and top environmental engineers, several of which he has worked with in his own businesses.

Three years ago Hayward installed HEPA filter air purifiers in his Hayward Lumber businesses, with the initial one going into his Pacific Grove branch.

“We wanted to provide better air for our employees (protection) from viruses and chemicals that filter through the air every day,” Hayward said. “We started seeing better morale, more energy, less flus, less mistakes.”

When the pandemic began, Hayward began working diligently with experts on air quality to bring the best practices for cleaner air to the Central Coast to help reopen schools, restaurants and indoor businesses.

“I’ve been focused on healthy homes for the last 10 years,” Hayward said. “So I knew exactly who to call and bring out here. We could have opened schools a long time ago. We knew this was an airborne virus.”

In an effort to provide a safer environment for his employees in their own homes, Hayward went out and bought each employee a HEPA filter to help reduce the spread of the virus.

“Basically the essentials to clean air are fans, filters and monitors,” Hayward said. “People are realizing I can do that. We don’t have hot or freezing weather here. We can open windows.”

Because Monterey County does not have inclement weather, Hayward felt that we could take advantage of the clean ocean air outside. Even slightly opening a window in a home can help circulate the air and the flow of particulates.

“You can open a door and rely on Mother Nature to help control the air,” Hayward said. “By using the equipment instead, you’re minimizing much of the concern — not just with viruses, but the potential of mold or mildew within the walls of your home or office.”

Hayward is selling energy recovery ventilators at his lumber stores, which can be for bigger venues such as restaurants, businesses or even gymnasiums for high schools.

He sells small units for homes and small offices, and larger units for areas designed specifically for classrooms, commercial buildings and public spaces.

The device removes humidity and moisture from the air entering the building. The energy wheel inside the ventilator allows the air coming in to cool as it passes through, exchanging the normally exhausted air.

“Indoor air doesn’t really mix,” Hayward said. “It’s hot above, cold down below. If a virus is in the air, your head is in it. This is pushing the air to mix with floating air across the space, making it lower risk. It exchanges air and enters the room at 68 degrees. It pulls moisture out of the air.”

The devices in a classroom can run at a low speed so it’s not a disruption. The bigger ventilators can cover a much larger space, like a hotel or high school gym.

Hayward helped set up Stevie’s restaurant in Prunedale with HEPA filters, which run about $300 a filter. The Monterey Museum of Art is using the systems as well.

“Remember that musty smell at the Monterey Museum of Art?” Hayward said. “Gone.”

Hayward recently installed an energy ventilator at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, setting up the Exemplar with Hernandez, validating it with some complex instruments, in which they also put in nine HEPA filters, allowing them to monitor the air more closely.

“You can filter the air with outdoor air coming in, or clean air through these systems,”  Hayward said. “The systems have been implemented in several classrooms. You want to operate at a low risk. You’re minimizing the concern for any virus, not just COVID. Ventilators clean the air, they don’t take CO2 out. People that have them in their homes are feeling better, sleeping better.”

Hayward sees these devices as long-term solutions for minimizing all viruses, particularly in the winter when the flu season typically heats up, reversing in his mind 100 years of institutions resisting the idea that there is airborne transmission with viruses.

“I don’t want to go into public spaces indoors and share the air with others if I don’t feel it’s safe,” Hayward said. “This equipment increases fresh, clean air. The legacy benefit we’re headed for post-COVID will be less viruses circulating in the air. There are so many benefits to this.”

Original article here: