The Impact of Air Handling Units on Enhancing Indoor Air Quality

2017-11-07 09:32 TE HVAC Senior Project Manager: BJ Chen.

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Indoor air quality (IAQ) plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy and comfortable indoor environment. Poor IAQ can lead to various health concerns and reduce productivity levels. To mitigate these issues, air handling units (AHUs) have gained significant attention as an effective solution in improving IAQ. This article aims to explore the mechanisms through which AHUs enhance IAQ and their benefits in achieving a healthier indoor environment.

1. AHU Functionality:

Air handling units are integral components of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. They are responsible for the effective treatment and distribution of conditioned air within enclosed spaces. AHUs consist of several essential components, including filters, fans, cooling or heating coils, and dampers, all working in tandem to improve IAQ.

2. Filtration Systems:

AHUs are equipped with advanced filters that capture and remove airborne contaminants such as dust, pollen, mold spores, and bacteria. These filters vary in efficiency levels, with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters being widely recognized for their ability to trap even the smallest particles. By regularly replacing and maintaining filters, AHUs can effectively reduce the presence of pollutants in the indoor environment.

3. Ventilation and Dilution:

AHUs facilitate the exchange of outdoor air with indoor air to dilute pollutants and maintain a healthier environment. This process, known as ventilation, helps remove stale air and replenish it with fresh, filtered air. AHUs incorporate ventilation systems that comply with industry standards and guidelines, ensuring adequate air turnover rates and improving IAQ.

4. Temperature and Humidity Control:

Controlling temperature and humidity levels is crucial for a comfortable and healthy indoor environment. AHUs regulate these factors through cooling and heating coils, preventing the growth of mold and bacteria. By maintaining a consistent temperature and humidity range, AHUs mitigate the risk of respiratory issues and enhance overall occupant comfort.

5. Energy Efficiency Considerations:

While offering numerous benefits for IAQ improvement, AHUs should also prioritize energy efficiency. Optimizing AHU operation can be achieved through strategies such as implementing variable speed drives (VSDs) on fans, using energy recovery systems, and employing control algorithms to minimize energy consumption.


Air handling units play a vital role in improving IAQ through their filtration, ventilation, temperature, and humidity control functions. By effectively removing airborne contaminants and supplying fresh air, AHUs contribute to a healthier indoor environment. Furthermore, their energy-efficient operation ensures sustainable and cost-effective solutions. It is evident that AHUs offer substantial benefits in improving IAQ, making them a valuable asset in maintaining occupant health and well-being. Future research should continue to explore advancements in AHU technologies, further enhancing their performance and overall impact on indoor air quality.


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