Restaurant owners hope installing UV sanitization in HVAC systems will help avoid shutdown

Business owners using UV light to clean air and fight COVID-19

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The thought of a possible shutdown makes restaurant and bar owners frustrated and anxious.

They’ve spent thousands of dollars renovating their HVAC systems with UV filtration to keep the air safe for employees and customers.

They think it’s enough to allow them to stay open.

“We all know winter is coming and we’ve worked hard and invested tens of thousands of dollars in this UV air filtration technology,” said Sam McNulty, Ohio City business owner.

As the weather turns and patios close, McNulty is confident that guests and employees at his dining rooms and bars will be breathing clean, safe air.

“What you don’t see is that we’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars also in this vast UV air filtration technology. It’s the same thing the Cleveland Clinic uses to sanitize their buildings and their PPE,” he said. They’ve retrofitted the existing HVAC systems at Market Garden Brewery, Bier Market, Bar Cento and Nano Brewery with the REME HALO, a UV powered air purifier, made by RGF Environmental Group.

McNulty believes this should be the new standard.

The technology works by ionizing air molecules, collecting different viruses, particles and bacteria. It’s filtered through powerful UV light which neutralizes the air.

“So you’re getting clean, pure air into the system and you’re transitioning this air throughout the day,” said Sal Saia, with Comfort Systems USA.

He says they’ve installed more than 1500 of these units throughout Northeast Ohio, and they’ve got a wait list of three thousand units. Lead time is 12 weeks.

“Anybody that has commercial buildings and understands this product and UV lights, they are adding them to their buildings. Business is booming in this sector,” Saia said.

“When we first placed the order, it was for 22 of these units. We got two of them because they were out nationwide. All the hospitals were buying them and installing them,” McNulty said.

Saia says as a contractor he cannot promise that it can 100 percent kill COVID.

“Because the government does not allow that strain of the virus to come out for testing purposes. There are studies right now, especially by the manufacturer RGF, that have come out to say it 99.9 percent kills the viruses associated with coronavirus,” he said.

According to Saia, there are other products out there flooding the market and confusing consumers, who should be careful if they’re being sold or pitched things that are marketed to kill COVID.

“There are so many salespeople out there trying to sell different products and make a buck right now. They should be very careful,” he said.

McNulty and his partners have placed signage up, to let guests and employees know the steps they’ve taken.

“Every night multiple guests come up to us, say, ‘Hey thank you for doing that. We feel better being here,’” he said.

“This new technology is really putting people at ease when it comes to air purification, and it’s really showing a commitment from the building owners to bring their clientele back in to the buildings,” said Saia.

McNulty believes this bolsters their argument to avoid a shut down.

“We had to scrimp and save in order to afford these. Clearly business is not what is once was but we are doing this to keep our staff and our guests safe through the winter,” said McNulty.

There are residential applications for theses UV filters for your home HVAC system, but getting your hands on one will be difficult and will run you about $800-1000.

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