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Air Purification in Woodbridge: Safe options for indoor fitness facilities

December 10, 2020

Reprinted from NJ Municipalities magazine December 2020 issue

Robert R. Keady, Jr., PE, CME, Senior VP & Municipal Practice Leader, T&M Associates
M. Elaine Dasti, PE, Group Manager, T&M Associates
Vito Cimilluca, Business Administrator, Woodbridge Township (NJ)

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to inject disarray and uncertainty into our routines — but as New Jersey continues its gradual reopening, it is clear that residents are eager to safely resume normal activities and recreation.

This is especially true at indoor fitness facilities, which have been the slowest to reopen due to the inherent challenges around social distancing, sanitization of high-contact surfaces, and the indoor movement of microscopic droplets. But throughout the state, municipalities and private owners are working hard to tackle these challenges head-on.

Here in Woodbridge, the township partnered with the engineering experts at T&M Associates to implement our in-progress rehabilitation of The Club at Woodbridge Sports and Fitness Center. This multimillion-dollar project will not only result in a beautiful facility with world-class amenities — it will also, through enhanced air filtration and the installation of bipolar-ionization technology, ensure that the indoor air quality meets the safest possible standards to mitigate potential virus transmission.

Described by Business Insider as a possible “secret weapon” against COVID-19, bipolar ionization works by adding positive and negative oxygen ions to an air handling system. Negative, or charged, oxygen ions attract unwanted particles, including dust, mold, exhaled droplets, and microbes. Facilities in the process of upgrading their HVAC systems to include bipolar ionization include the stadium used by the National Football League’s Denver Broncos. In addition to the ionization technology, The Club at Woodbridge’s newest air-handling units will be equipped with Minimum Efficiently Report Value (MERV) 13 filters, in accordance with CDC standards as well as recommendations put forth by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

With support from T&M Associates, Woodbridge has already renovated the indoor multi-sport field, daycare center, administrative offices, and locker rooms at The Club. We are now in the process of constructing a 4,000 square foot addition and 26,000 square foot renovation to accommodate a full-size ice hockey rink, restrooms, locker rooms, bleachers, and a concession stand as well as various facilities for coaches, officials, and equipment storage.

We expect the new ice rink to be ready for the September 2021 season. Central to the design of the facility will be our bipolar ionization-enhanced air purification system to help keep players, officials, and spectators safe. Although we are all moving forward in the hopes of the introduction of an effective vaccine, the Township of Woodbridge is leaving nothing to chance, and taking proactive steps to protect the public health.