ASHRAE offers HVAC guidance for holding worship services safely under epidemic conditions

by Brianna Crandall — January 25, 2021 — Global building technology society ASHRAE just announced that the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has released recommendations on conducting worship services under epidemic conditions. The Communities of Faith Buildings guidance offers worship facilities strategies to use their heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems to help reduce transmission of the SARS-CoV -2 coronavirus that causes Covid-19, and to move toward a “new normal.”

Rick Karg, ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force member, stated:

The intent of the Communities of Faith guidance is to offer those who operate and care for buildings used for worship a plan for implementing short- and long-term HVAC strategies to reduce the possibilities of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The document also helps communities move toward a “new normal” operation after this public health emergency nears an end.

Recommendations for houses of worship include the following:

  • Identify HVAC system characteristics. Compile and review operation and maintenance manuals and schedules.
  • Verify HVAC systems are well maintained and operating as intended. For maintenance, follow the requirements of ASHRAE Standard 180 – 2018, Standard Practice for the Inspection and Maintenance of Commercial HVAC Systems.
    • Consider personal protective equipment (PPE) when maintaining HVAC systems, including filters, coils and drain pans.
  • Operate HVAC systems, if present, with system fan set to run continuously when building is occupied for services or cleaning.
  • Operate the system for a time required to achieve three equivalent air changes of outdoor air (effect of outdoor air, filtration and air cleaners) before the first daily occupancy and between occupied periods, if appropriate. Three equivalent air changes can be calculated using ASHRAE’s Building Readiness Guide.

To view the complete Communities of Faith Buildings guidance and additional Covid-19 resources, visit the ASHRAE website.