The men behind Avenues Mall in Kuwait reveal the story behind the swanky new mall. Read on to get a unique HVAC on the end-user and supplier side of things.
From residential to government buildings and from schools to shopping malls, indoor air quality (IAQ) systems are becoming more advanced and widely applied. In particular, the role of air filtration technologies in enhancing IAQ and human occupants’ productivity has been significant. High-efficiency air filters have left their mark on all human and industrial activities. Air filtration is not a recent invention, but it has increasingly become an essential component in HVAC systems.
Exactly how much everyone – shoppers thronging a mall, in this case – has come to expect and demand thermally comfortable and contaminant-free indoor environments was made clear by Saoud Al-Musallam, Facilities and Services Manager at Avenues Mall. As Al-Musallam pointed out, everyone wishes to enjoy themselves at a mall, and if the appropriate air filters are not installed, the indoor environment would simply become a colder version of the one outside, with suspended particles, odours and fumes. In a phrase, it would completely ruin their shopping/mall experience.
The wider ‘shopping mall experience’ has become an integral part of people’s daily lifestyles, and malls, nowadays, usually offer dining and entertainment facilities, such as department stores, hypermarkets, food courts and cinemas in addition to boutiques in order to cater to the differing tastes of customers. Families arrive at The Avenues shopping mall to shop, have fun, and dine while their kids enjoy the thrilling game entertainment sectors, Al Musallam said.
The Facilities and Services Manager said everyone should be entitled to the best indoor air quality possible. “But our vision does not stop there,” he said. “We work on a regular basis to capture recent advanced technologies, which would help in achieving the ultimate indoor air quality to our Avenues indoor environment to optimise the shopping experience.”
Kharafi National, which operates Avenues Mall, said it targets high-quality engineering solutions and verifies their applicability and full implementation by subjecting new proposed air-filtration solutions to dry runs and thorough performance examination. Mohamad Atif, Project Manager, Kharafi National, said that the IAQ of Avenues Mall was the main priority from the very outset. Continuous efforts to maintain or enhance this were of utmost importance to Kharafi National Projects, he added.
“In Avenues, we worked jointly with EMW Filtertechnik to propose filtration enhancements, which were studied, tested and monitored over an extended period of time,” Atif said. “This was conducted according to the parameters set forth by Kharafi National to ensure the filtration efficiency desired matches the one required. Further, other considerations such as a lifetime and pressure drop have been assiduously monitored in the filtration plan proposed by EMW Germany.”
Speaking about the climate challenges encountered during the project, Iyad Al-Attar, Regional Director, EMW Filtertechnik, Germany, said: “We at EMW propose engineering filtration solutions and plans, not just products. The climate challenges, such as sand storms, elevate the concentration of the dust loaded into the air filters installed in the air handling units. Therefore, EMW studied carefully the geographic location of the mall and characterised physically and chemically the dust challenging the existing air filters installed in the air handling units prior to proposing any solutions.”
Al-Attar went on to say that EMW, then, proposed the appropriate filtration solutions and conducted comparisons to deal with sand storms and allow final fine filter to act as depth filter, consequently extending the lifetime of the filter. The filtration plan presented to Avenues management reinforced fresh and pre-filtration, he said, which would directly have an impact on lowering maintenance and other operating costs associated to shutdowns. Further, the ultra-low pressure drop and high surface area of EMW filters and their innovative designs make them an appealing choice for HVAC designers and engineers. “In EMW designs, energy saving is not an accessory,” Al-Attar said. “It is the driving force.”
Adil Al-Basier, Head of Maintenance, said Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project have been completed and that Avenues Mall is currently undergoing major expansion as part of the third and fourth phases. By the time, the third phase is complete, the mall will be one of the largest in the world. In the words of Al-Basier: “We realised that the Avenues is attracting a huge crowd and has record daily visitors.” The Head of Maintenance revealed that the Avenues’ IAQ is monitored closely to ensure the indoor environment remains healthy and pleasant and does not in any way adversely affect the functioning of the mall. “In the Avenues shopping mall, we outsource the latest air filtration solutions that are most appropriate to the mall, and then we qualify, verify and implement the recent advances of air filtration on the fresh air, pre- and fine- filtration stages,” he added.
Al-Musallam said that Avenues has been working very closely with EMW Filtertechnik since 2008 in making appropriate filter selections to deal with the environmental challenges posed by the local climate, such as sand storms and the year-round requirement for air conditioning. “We at The Avenues strongly believe that the shopping mall pleasure starts from studying the details from the inside-out and, not only from outside in,” Al-Musallam said. “That is why the Avenues management is rigorously seeking improvements for the IAQ to ensure that the visitors are extremely comfortable and well protected, and their shopping experience at Avenues is unsurpassed.”
However, this is easier said than implemented, because as Al-Attar pointed out, air filtration starts at the source. “Obviously, air filters are the primary line of defence against air contaminants and their removal must take place prior to further introducing the air into the air handling units,” he said. “This will ensure that the air filters protect the HVAC systems components, such as coils, motors as well as the ducting systems and air diffusion outlets.”
There are challenges along the way. “Sand storms constitute the major challenge to our HVAC systems in Kuwait, in general, since it elevates the dust concentration of the air intake causing filter to have a less operational lifetime,” Kharafi National’s Atif said. “Yes, protecting both the visitors and the mall’s HVAC equipment are our main objectives. The current air filtration enhancement proposed by EMW reinforces the fresh and pre-filtration stages to provide longer filter lifetime, reduce shutdown times, operating and running cost.”
Atif added that the popularity of Avenues Mall as a shopping and fun destination demands the best IAQ through a fully functional facility. Since air conditioning units operate continuously throughout the year, the use of high efficiency and aerodynamic extended surface area filters are desired and play a vital role in improving the IAQ.