Safeguarding Industrial Workplaces Against Airborne Pathogens While Ensuring Energy Efficiency

Hybrid HVAC system providing outside air, filtration,
air sterilization & zoned heating

As industrial buildings re-open amid the pandemic, improving indoor air quality and controlling the spread of infection is critical. Industrial building owners and facility managers today are challenged with:

  • meeting fresh air requirements.
  • achieving energy efficiency.
  • maintaining occupant comfort.
  • minimizing airborne pathogens.

Achieving all of the above can be difficult and costly in vast, open spaces consisting of mixed use, occupied and unoccupied areas like those found in: (show application shots with captions)

Rapid Make Up Air Unit

In order to optimize indoor air quality, efficiency and comfort, each area should be a different zone, but this isn’t practical in open, high bay buildings. The following scenario is common in industrial buildings:

  • some employees aren’t getting the required fresh air.
  • loading dock workers are cold and uncomfortable from excessive outside air infiltration.
  • energy is wasted heating unoccupied storage areas.

As a result, a one-size-fits-all HVAC approach doesn’t meet the very diverse needs or standards of many industrial buildings. Building designers and owners need a balanced system that addresses:

What is Virtual Wall®?

Top Air Handling Solution ProviderIn occupied areas, targeted zone heating is needed to achieve optimal worker comfort. Unitary air heaters are commonly used for zone heating. But in open areas, heated air will spread, allowing heat to dissipate. Heat is then inefficiently lost to the rest of the building and storage areas where it’s not needed.

Infrared heaters keep comfortable radiant heat focused in occupied areas, directing infrared heat exactly within the space, without requiring walls to contain the heat. In essence, creating “virtual walls” in open areas where zone heating is needed.

ROBERTS GORDON® High efficiency infrared heating systems

  • can save 40% on energy consumption over conventional air heaters.
  • keep heat where needed and keep occupants warm, even when overhead doors are open.
  • warm people, floors and surrounding objects, NOT the air, so workers feel warm, EVEN at lower air temperatures.

RAPID® Make-up air handlers

If heating an entire space to one temperature is not desired, make-up air handlers can be used to improve indoor air quality, provide outdoor air ventilation and provide a base-level of heating for the building. This allows unoccupied areas to have a neutral temperature without energy waste.

Leading agencies such as the American Society of Heating Refrigeration Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have all recommended increased fresh air ventilation to reduce spread of airborne pathogens. The timing could not be any more critical to prioritize these systems.


Building management controls integrate ventilation and base-level heating with make-up air and infrared heating capitalizing on the best attributes of RAPID® make-up air units and ROBERTS GORDON® infrared heaters. This integrated, hybrid HVAC system is called VIRTUAL WALL®.

VIRTUAL WALL® offers industrial building owners, facility managers and occupants an energy efficient solution to achieve indoor air quality and occupant comfort.