Updated: Feb 18, 2022
Over the last four-plus months, the United States continues to battle one of the great disease outbreaks in our country's history in the COVID-19 pandemic. While states and cities find themselves as the focal points for proper methods of response, some engineers are looking to owners to consider updates to the infrastructure of their spaces.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, better known as ASHRAE in the industry, is taking a critical approach to the HVAC units inside the millions of buildings and retail spaces across the country and providing their own sets of guidance to help keep occupants as safe from disease and harm as possible.
In response to coronavirus, the organization assembled and deployed the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force, designed to share technical resources for owners trying to improve their heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems in order to best protect spaces.
While it might be hard for owners to synthesize all of the fantastic information provided by ASHRAE, we want to help direct attention to some of the highlights.
Upgrades for Buildings:
Consider Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) upgrades, particularly in areas receiving a high volume of usage and traffic, like lobbies and conference rooms (read more about UVGI lighting here).
Consider portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters.
Keep the building's air handling system running for longer hours, 24/7 if possible, to promote continued cycling of air.
Increase outdoor air ventilation in order to reduce air share between individuals.
Upgrade facility air filters to at least MERV 13 or greater in order to improve the efficiency of the building's circulation capabilities.
Eliminate recirculation or reduce to the greatest possible extent. This approach isn't guaranteed to significantly reduce
Making Personal Changes:
Increase disinfection and sanitization of frequently touched surfaces.
Suggest that employees bring their own water supply from home to minimize contact.
Wear cloth face coverings/masks when leaving the house. Masks with an N95 filtering facepiece respirator protects up to 95% of 0.3-micrometer airborne particles.
Increase handwashing frequency. When any maintenance task is completed, personnel should immediately wash their hands with soap and water, or substitute for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Those required to travel via public transportation should be aware of risks, though most ground transportation vehicles have high-grade filters. Wearing a mask with an N95 air respirator will greatly reduce the transmission rate.
Adjusting to the Environments in our New Normal:
Close off or post warning signage at water fountains.
Disable demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) in order to keep systems running as much as possible.
Ensure all items and areas with frequent touchpoints (light switches, door handles, faucets, vending machines, etc.) receive proper and thorough cleaning as often as possible.
Keep restroom doors closed at all times, even when not in use. Vent restrooms separately from others where possible. Keep windows closed inside of restrooms. This increases air quality filtration.
Contributions from the Engineering Team at Tec Inc.
Principal | Director of Mechanical Engineering
Recognized as a pragmatic and skilled expert in HVAC engineering and plumbing design, John focuses on making the most of project budgets and schedules for our clients. A skilled troubleshooter and proponent of increasing energy efficiency, John manages and leads our mechanical engineering staff at Tec. In addition, he is always looking to help future AEC professionals along the way.