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By Linda Armendariz
From the February 2024 Issue

 

All buildings require regular maintenance, repairs, and improvements to preserve optimal condition. However, even after taking the proper steps, emergencies, like flooding, can occur that would require immediate intervention to prevent additional damages. Whether it’s a planned project, or an unexpected event, contractors and facility managers need to rapidly respond to effectively protect those in and around the construction area from being exposed to harmful dust and other airborne particulates.

Traditionally, contractors have relied on lumber, drywall, and poly sheeting to construct temporary containment barriers. While effective, building temporary walls with single-use materials adds labor costs for construction and disposal. The costs will add up fast with each new project. Due to the increasing cost of labor, shortages have become common across the industry. Companies that once relied on large crews are now seeking ways to get the job done with fewer people, without compromising on safety and efficiency.

Containment Wall Systems, Construction
(Photo: Adobe Stock / nd700)

 

To mitigate the rising cost of construction materials and prevent disruptions from ongoing labor shortages, contractors are turning to a new, sustainable solution—reusable, modular temporary containment wall systems.

Over the past decade, modular temporary containment wall systems have become a popular solution due to their many benefits, including:

1. Cost Savings

Temporary modular containment wall systems were invented to be a cost-saving solution for the construction industry. With the costs of lumber and related materials on the rise, repeatedly purchasing one-time use materials not only impacts the environment, but also a company’s bottom line. But with reusable modular containment walls, the systems pay for themselves in as little as three to five uses. They also eliminate future containment costs providing a higher ROI.

Companies who purchase these solutions are eligible for tax breaks. Temporary wall containment qualifies as an equipment purchase under IRS Section 179, which allows businesses to deduct the full equipment purchase price, with certain limits. The intention of the IRS Section 179 tax break is to incentivize investments by allowing businesses to keep more of their tax dollars and increase overall cash flow.

2. Adaptability To A Variety Of Needs

Constructing wall systems with traditional materials can be limited by the supplies available on the store shelf. Sometimes, contractors end up having to rely on materials that aren’t the best match for the job. However, modular containment systems eliminate the need to rely on store availability. With a simple construction design, containment walls can be assembled without the need to purchase specialty tools or equipment. After completing a job, the walls can be easily stored and kept on hand for every future containment need.

Thanks to their flexible, modular design, reusable containment systems can be configured to fit any setting and can effectively isolate and separate construction from occupied spaces. The hard-sided containment barriers boast an attractive appearance to conceal the mess of construction in places like hospitals, office buildings, airports, stores, and data centers, keeping operations moving with little disruption.

3. Noise Reduction With Minimal Disruptions

Combined with their sleek, attractive appearance, temporary containment solutions allow facilities to effectively conceal construction zones. Construction noises and vibrations in a work environment can be disruptive, and to those in critical care environments, intolerable. In hospitals, loud noises and intense vibrations can not only be distressing to patients but can prevent them from getting the rest that is crucial for recovery. As a remedy, hospitals and other critical care facilities are increasingly relying on reusable containment walls for their sound-attenuating capabilities.

Additionally, in commercial settings—like malls, offices, labs, data centers, and colleges— sound attenuation minimizes disruptions, leading to greater productivity and tenant/customer satisfaction. 

4. Sustainability

The construction industry has been a rising focal point in global sustainability efforts, largely due to the mass amounts of emissions and material waste it produces. According to the EPA, North America alone represents approximately 50% of the world’s use of drywall and nearly 75% of the material ends up in landfills. While disposing of drywall in landfills is a common practice, this can potentially release dangerous sulfates into the ground, contaminating the groundwater supply.

Most modular containment wall systems available on the market today support much more sustainable, environmentally friendly construction practices. The systems are extremely durable and meant to last for hundreds of projects. They’re easy to transport, configure, install, disassemble, and store, reducing the need for additional materials.

5. Easy Sanitation

Construction and renovation projects in healthcare facilities are necessary to improve patient care. However, these projects can directly contribute to serious infection outbreaks in patients if the construction areas are not properly contained. With maintaining cleanliness and proper hygiene a top priority, traditional materials like drywall are not the best option for containment. Drywall can be hard to sanitize and wipe fully as well as requires secondary containment during the installation and tear-down process. Temporary modular containment systems, however, are equipped with wipeable surfaces, meaning both interior and exterior walls can be routinely disinfected. This is a requirement of the Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) guidelines published by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE).

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Furthermore, most temporary containment wall systems comply with the proper protocols for infection control in healthcare facilities. Facility managers and construction professionals should ensure they understand the Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) requirements to choose the right containment solutions.

Choosing The Right Solution

While the advantages of a temporary modular containment wall system are clear, selecting the right solution will depend on various factors like budget, project duration, size of the space, and infection control requirements. Solutions providers can help contractors find a wall system that is best suited for their specific needs, and can help determine the best financial route for the purchase. The right provider will be able to provide guided buying expertise and knowledge on ICRA compliance and other containment standards. After all, modular containment walls offer a modern way for contractors to prioritize IAQ, ultimately keeping everyone safe.  

Armendariz is the Rental Market Manager at Abatement Technologies. With over 25 years of experience in equipment supply, Linda leads the company’s strategic efforts in rental partnerships and assists businesses in selecting the right equipment for various projects.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or send an e-mail to the Editor at jen@groupc.com.

Check out all the recent HVAC Factor columns from Facility Executive magazine.

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