If you’re reopening education facilities, see ASHRAE’s HVAC checklists to reduce airborne transmission of coronavirus

by Brianna Crandall — July 29, 2020 — Global building technology society ASHRAE just announced that the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has developed guidance on the operation of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems to help mitigate the airborne transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 as education facilities prepare to reopen in the fall for the academic year.

The 41-page Presentation includes convenient checklists to prepare educational buildings to resume occupancy, such as starting up HVAC systems, as well as checks and verifications to maintain during the academic school year. The guidance is meant to provide practical information to school districts and university campus environmental health managers, facilities managers (FMs), administrators, technicians and service providers.

2020-21 ASHRAE President Charles E. Gulledge III, P.E., stated:

As schools prepare to reopen for the fall academic semester, it’s important to keep children and school staff safe. ASHRAE’s school reopening guide will serve as a resource to school leaders as they work in lockstep with health experts to finalize plans to keep everyone safe.

The guide includes the following topics:

  • Determining Building Readiness
  • Equipment and System Specific Checks and Verifications During the Academic Year
  • New/Modified Facility Design Recommendations
  • Filtration Upgrades
  • Operations of Occupied Facilities
  • Controlling Infection Outbreak in School Facilities
  • Higher Education Facilities Recommendations

Also included is guidance formulated to help designers retrofit and plan for the improvement of indoor air quality (IAQ) and to slow the transmission of viruses via the HVAC systems, as well as new guidance on student health facilities, laboratories, athletic facilities, residence halls, and large assemblies, lectures and theatres.

Corey Metzger, ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force Schools Team pointed out:

School and university officials are challenged with making very difficult decisions on how to best protect both students and staff as education facilities reopen. This guidance offers a solid framework on ventilation control, filtration and maintenance that can be applied to different climate zones, building types and HVAC systems.

For the complete ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force reopening guide for Schools and Universities (PDF file) and other COVID-19 resources, visit the group’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Resources from ASHRAE and Others webpage (click on the “Reopening” tab/icon near the top of the page, then the “Schools and Universities” tab underneath).