breathe easy

Breath Safely: Air Purification To Stay Healthy Indoors

breathe easy

Breath safely. We might be done with the worry and stress of the pandemic, but it’s not done with us. We remain committed to keeping businesses, schools, hospitals, and everyone safe as we get back to work, back in the classroom, and back on the move.

This thing is only beginning. While there is plenty still to learn about the spread of COVID-19, one thing is clear; when people are indoors in big numbers, there tends to be a spike. Think about it; in the late winter and early spring, the worse hotspots were in cold regions like Michigan, New York, Seattle, and other places where people were stuck indoors.

As summer heat and early easing of lockdown efforts drove people in southern states into air-conditioned buildings, the same thing happened. When the A/C kicked on, the cases surged. As the weather became more temperate further north, case numbers sank.

We’re bracing for the return of thousands of students back into schools this fall, as well as watching how we can best protect the hundreds of teachers and staff it takes to keep our schools going.

Additionally, businesses in our hometown have battled the economic effects of a months-long shutdown and a sluggish season of summer sales. They know they won’t make it through another lockdown, and they also know that they need to protect their staff and customers.

Over the past weeks and months, we’ve been working closely with our local partners to install Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization technology to kill 99.4% of COVID-19 particles in just thirty minutes. NPI is the first air purification system to be tested specifically against this pathogen and has proven time and again to be the most effective way to keep people safe indoors and help them breathe safely.

We’ve put stickers in the windows of local businesses to let both staff and customers know that they can breathe easy. This effort is a way to reduce the spread of a dangerous disease and another way to keep people safe, in addition to CDC guidelines that include hand-washing, wearing a mask, and adhering to social distancing practices in public. Breathe safely, and let’s be a part of the solution.

Want to learn more? Call us today!  Together, we can save lives. Let’s get started.

HVAC Thermostat

Thermostats May Soon Be A Thing Of The Past

HVAC Thermostat

One of the most exciting jobs of what we do involves keeping a careful eye on what comes next. Science and technology are offering creative new ways to improve energy efficiency, and preparing now for what’s next is the best way to stay ahead of the curve, even in mundane controls like thermostats. 

With more of us spending time indoors than ever, HVAC is emerging as a crucial way to save energy and improve what we do with the power we already use. Not only are experts studying how air conditioning and heating airflow could be spreading the coronavirus, but we’re also learning that these systems offer a tremendous opportunity to do more for us without our having to even think of it. 

Lighting systems have offering automatic zone controls for years; by using movement to monitor the use of a room or space, they adjust lighting levels or turn on and off without any manual input. Those are critical systems in all sorts of applications, including warehouses, schools, and hospitals. Now, researchers at the University of Michigan are working to bring the same idea to HVAC. Called HEAT (Human Embodied Autonomous Thermostat), it could change the way we stay comfortable year-round. 

The idea focuses on using thermal cameras to scan the faces of anyone in a given space. The system automatically adjusts the room temperature to keep the occupant comfortable. If there’s more than one person in the room, the system calculates the most efficient temperature to keep the majority of the occupants comfortable. It’s essentially personalized automated climate control that can also adapt as quickly when people leave a room. 

Right now, that’s more important than ever. While we may be home more than ever, many office buildings and other facilities are seeing seismic shifts in use. Staggered or reduced workforces, more employees working from home, and a new need to use larger spaces to gather, rather than cramped offices. That means buildings need to cool or heat more precise spaces and change their energy use once workers leave. 

What’s even more exciting is that this process only gets more efficient with time. The system learns individual preferences and changes in body temperature throughout the day, meaning it will be able to anticipate needs more accurately over time. 

Finally, the information gathered by the system can connect to the Internet of Things, which could help influence how other facility structures operate, including lighting and even machinery by adjusting energy use based on occupancy. 

While the technology is still new, it’s already available for licensing, and it’s something you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more about soon. 

Interested in what else we’re watching? Let us know with an email!

air pollution

Air Pollution Reduces Solar Energy Efficiency. COVID-19 Gives Us A Chance To Find Out How Much.

While they’d never have wished for it, the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have given climate scientists an opportunity to study pollution like never before. When it comes to solar energy, the findings could be critical. 

Around the world, countries responded to the rising threat of the coronavirus with economic and social shutdowns like never before. Entire economies didn’t just wind down, they slammed into a wall. That economic stop has left tens of millions of Americans out of work and drastic stimulus plans rushing through governments in every corner of the globe. Almost no business is unaffected, and industries like manufacturing, transportation, and others have been some of the worst hit. 

There is a silver lining, at least. The stoppage has allowed for an unprecedented drop in air pollution. In urban centers, the lack of traffic and other causes of smog have all but stopped, and the result has been staggering. Even in some of the most polluted cities on earth, locals have noticed better breathing quality and better visibility. For researchers, however, it’s offered the chance to do a lot more than just take a deep breath. 

For example, solar energy scientists jumped at the chance to study just how much solar panels are impacted by air pollution. One study focused on the air quality of Delhi, India, one of the most polluted cities in one of the most polluted industrial countries. The drastic lockdown measures taken by the Indian government offered a clean, easy-to-identify timeline for air pollution levels, giving scientists a way to get a closer look at how they affect efficiency. 

The study found that 950 Watts/square meter of sunlight reached panels in late March, up from an average of 880 W/sm over that same time period in 2017, 2018, and 2019. That’s an 8% increase, which is nothing if not substantial. In fact, an 8% increase is comparable to the difference in sunlight, on average, between Houston, Texas, and Toronto in Canada. 

It highlights how much impact pollution plays in the future of solar energy. By reducing the energy production of solar panels, that power needs to be produced by other means. Often, that means relying on fossil fuels that contribute even more pollution to the air, reducing solar production even more. It’s a vicious cycle, but there’s hope in the recent findings that air pollution can clear quickly, but only if producers stop creating such incredible amounts of smog. 

Of course, there’s more good to be gained from reducing air pollution beyond better solar power. Air pollution affects the health of tens of millions of people around the world, even contributing to less successful outcomes for coronavirus patients. The world spends billions of dollars a year treating people with respiratory illnesses and cancers connected to air pollution. 

The lesson is clear. All it will take to improve many of our environmental challenges is commitment. We simply can’t wait for a health emergency and a stunted economy to drive the change. Learn more about how Keen Technical Solutions can help your company be a part of that change, from solar energy to energy storage and beyond.

HVAC Summer Checklist: Fired Up To Cool Down

Temperatures hit the 90s here in our neck of the woods for the first time recently, but we’ve been fielding calls across the country from businesses flicking on the AC and….nothing. 

Whether your HVAC system is working perfectly or on the fritz, the transition from spring to summer is one of the toughest times of the year for many facilities struggling to tackle huge temperature swings and high humidity. The best way to keep things cool is to schedule regular, professional maintenance with Keen. Of course, there are plenty of small things you can do, too, to make sure every season is a breeze. 

Filters – Every system relies on clean filters to run efficiently, and they’re one of the easiest things to overlook. We think of new filters as crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s; even if you upgrade everything else, you aren’t making the most of your investment without taking care of the details. Check each filter and replace worn or dirty filters wherever you can. 

Check The Lid – We’ve driven hours to warehouses before to help address underperforming or broken HVAC systems, only to learn that the facility had started their air conditioning without removing air conditioning unit covers. Remove any and all covers, and if you rely on other airflow equipment, take the time to inspect those to ensure they’re clear of any dirt, sticks, branches, or other debris that might affect air intake. 

Upgrade Your Thermostat – Investing in a smarter control system can pay for itself, especially in changeable climates with hot summers, cold winters, and big changes in humidity. By getting smarter, more adaptive and intelligent systems, you can set your HVAC to adjust to weather automatically, measure changes in energy use, and help you make small changes that can save a lot of money. Many modern systems even offer notifications on maintenance needs, software updates, and automated alerts based on your personal settings. 

We can help prepare your site for all four seasons to save money and keep your team comfortable, healthy, and productive!

less cancer

Less Cancer Bike Ride 2020: Nearly $70,000 For A Healthier Future

less cancer

Another year, another unique edition of the Less Cancer Bike Ride! Keen Technical Solutions pulled out all the stops to support one of our favorite non-profit partners, Less Cancer. 

This year’s ride was always going to be a little different. Two months ago, we helped make the decision to keep the ride solo. At the time, cycling organizations like USA Cycling and the League of Michigan Bicyclists were recommending only solo rides to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. To do our part, we made changes. While we certainly missed the challenge and camaraderie of a two-day, 250 mile adventure like we’ve done in years’ past, we knew that it was the right thing to do. 

The Alone But Together Bike Ride was born. By the time we made it to the planned weekend of June 6 and 7, guidelines allowed for small groups of riders. Cyclists all over the country signed up to pedal the path to prevention; from six miles to 150, every mile and every rider makes a difference. 

Together Team Keen Technical Solutions raised a total of $3,395, a great contribution to the $68,000 already raised for Less Cancer as a part of this event. 

We think we earned every cent! 

On Saturday, eight riders took on a massive 150 mile ride that looped south to Cadillac before heading north into a strong headwind home to Traverse City, Michigan. The small crew worked together and kept spirits high, with our friend Sean Kickbush driving the SAG wagon packed with snacks, water, and an open spot for any riders needing a break. 

The ride took over seven hours to complete at a flying pace of 20 miles per hour! You can see all the numbers here, plus some more great photos of the ride. 

We’d like to thank Less Cancer founder Bill Couzens for his passion and effort on behalf of the effort to bring cancer prevention to the forefront of thought, investment, and education. 60% of cancers are preventable. By informing healthcare professionals and legislators on dietary and environmental risk factors, we can reduce the number of cancer patients, the number of worried families, the number of financial disasters, and the number of cancer deaths. Prevention is the best investment we can make to a brighter future, and events like the Less Cancer Bike Ride are what make the difference. 

You can still donate to riders from the Keen Technical Solutions team through June 30. You can even sign up and go for a ride yourself and become a part of the team for 2020 and beyond! For more on the Less Cancer mission, make sure you check out LessCancer.org. We’re proud to celebrate our fifth year involved in this great event and to have helped bring the ride to northern Michigan. Until 2021, ride on!