HVAC Impact on Coronavirus:  Outdoor Air Ventilation

coronavirus_illo_812x610Ventilation can "affect disease transmission." 

This is Part 1 of a multi-part series on Coronavirus and HVAC. We aim to publish new content each week on topics that impact your portfolios, properties, employees, tenants, and residents.

On Tuesday March 17th, 2020, the National Institutes of Health reported that "The virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces, according to a new study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine."  (ref. here)

Per ASHRAE, "Ventilation air is the minimum amount of outdoor air required for the purpose of controlling air contaminant levels in buildings."  Increase and improve ventilation to help control disease transmission.  What's your facility outdoor ventilation air rate?   

For access to the full ASHRAE position document, standards, publications, technical committees, research projects and other material to prepare for COVID-19, visit the ASHRAE COVID-19 Preparedness Resources webpage at ashrae.org/COVID19.

Building operators should be able to answer the following questions: 
  1. What is your facility's ventilation rate? 
  2. What percentage is the outdoor air damper setting open? 
  3. Is the outdoor air damper closed?  

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If you can not answer these questions, CES can provide the resources to assist.   According to the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), "because small particles remain airborne for some period of time, the design and operation of HVAC systems that move air can affect disease transmission in several ways, such as by the following:

  1. Supplying clean air to susceptible occupants
  2. Containing contaminated air and/or exhausting it to the outdoors
  3. Diluting the air in a space with cleaner air from outdoors and/or by filtering the air
  4. Cleaning the air within the room

ASHRAE recommends the following strategies of interest to address disease transmission:

  1. dilution ventilation,
  2. laminar and other in-room flow regimes,
  3. differential room pressurization,
  4. personalized ventilation,
  5. source capture ventilation,
  6. filtration (central or unitary),
  7. and UVGI (upper room, in-room, and in the airstream).

Owners, operators, and engineers are encouraged to collaborate with infection prevention specialists knowledgeable about transmission of infection in the community and the workplace and about strategies for prevention and risk mitigation.

Posted by Todd Morgan Jr

Todd has over two decades of experience in mechanical contracting, building systems energy analysis, and indoor air quality(IAQ). Todd has provided a full range of mechanical engineering design, mechanical construction, plumbing, IAQ, preventative maintenance and system maintenance for major clients in the commercial, healthcare, institutional, and entertainment industries throughout the state of Florida.

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