Preventing HVAC from Spreading Coronavirus

October 1, 2020

Protocols keeping people safe from COVID-19 have been implemented in facilities throughout the world. Some of these changes have been regulated by governments, but far more have been implemented by organizations trying to take the best information they have and put it into practice, according to an article from Building Operating Management on the FacilitiesNet website.

There is an overwhelming body of data suggesting that face masks, social distancing, and hand washing are proven steps to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread. However, these steps alone are not enough.

In July, the scientific community spoke up through an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) citing multiple references to the fact that COVID-19 can spread via airborne transfer, particularly through very small particles known as aerosols. These particles can be suspended in the air for several hours according to these experts.

There are certain best practices that can help ensure people are getting clean air and minimizing the risk of community virus transfer in your facility.

First, increase ventilation. Opening windows can help, but for many this is not a practical solution. Instead, you can adjust your building controls to increase the amount of outdoor air flowing through your system. ASHRAE and others have suggested a two-hour flush prior to occupants arriving in the morning. The whole concept here is to bring in fresh air, thereby diluting the recirculated and potentially virus-laden, indoor air.  

Understanding the number of air exchanges your HVAC system is capable of is another critical component. You could have 100 percent outdoor air, but if it only changes over every 90 minutes, then your occupants are potentially and unnecessarily at risk because of the slow reduction of any aerosols hanging in the air.  

Read the full Building Operating Management article.

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