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INSIGHTS: Are Your HVAC Systems Designed to Support Evolved Health & Safety Needs?

EBP Mechanical Systems for Clean Manufacturing lorez

With COVID-19 being an airborne virus, reviewing your HVAC systems should be top-of-mind.

Much has been written about air flow and its role in the transmission of COVID-19, from analysis of air circulation in cabins of airplanes to air conditioning units at restaurants. According to the CDC, this virus is “thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”

Given this information, as you review and implement new health and safety procedures and methods, it’s important to make review of your HVAC systems, which control your air quality and circulation, a key part of your workplace re-entry planning.

On April 14, 2020, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), updated their Position Document on Infectious Aerosols. This document outlines a number of strategies that we are encouraging our clients to adopt, such as:

  • Enhanced filtration, using portable (free-standing) or in-line high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
  • Adding duct- or air-handling-unit-mounted, upper room, and/or portable Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) technologies.
  • Increasing outdoor air ventilation (disable demand-controlled ventilation and open outdoor air dampers to 100% as indoor and outdoor conditions permit).
  • Adjusting systems to run longer hours (24/7, if possible) for enhanced filtration and/or outdoor air dilution.
  • Maintaining optimal temperature and humidity levels.
  • Capturing expiratory aerosols with exhaust, floor-to-ceiling partitions with door supply and patient exhaust, local air HEPA-grade filtration.

The right strategies for your situation will depend on your building operations and HVAC system details. A mechanical systems audit is an easy and low-investment first step to understanding your needs.

If you lease your space, engage in dialogue with your property manager or landlord promptly to understand what steps they will be taking to ensure the health and safety of their tenants. You can read more here in our article INSIGHTS: Top Questions to Ask your Office Landlord.