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ASHRAE Offers COVID-19 Building Readiness/Reopening Guidance
ATLANTA (May 7, 2020) – The ASHRAE
Epidemic Task Force has developed guidance on mitigating potential
health risks during reopening of buildings closed during the COVID-19
"We have reached a time where planning for a safe return to normal activities has become a priority," said 2019-20 ASHRAE President Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng. "Safe operation of HVAC and building water management systems are critical components of building readiness and reopening, and ASHRAE's resources provide a framework for developing plans in a variety of building types."
ASHRAE's recommendations for reopening buildings are outlined in the frequently asked questions section of its COVID-19 Resources webpage. Recommendations for building readiness and reopening include the following:
Create a strategic plan prior to opening
a building. The plan should include measures to make occupants feel
safer, ensuring supply chain for critical items such as filters and
communication plans for building support and safety measures for
If the building opening takes place when
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements are still in place,
ASHRAE's Occupancy Guides can be referenced to deal with functioning
buildings during the epidemic.
Review HVAC programming to provide
flushing two hours before and post occupancies. This includes operating
the exhaust fans as well as opening the outside air dampers. For
buildings without the capacity to treat large quantities of outside air
and when outside air conditions are moderate, open all windows for a
minimum of two hours before reoccupation.
Ensure that custodial scope includes
proper cleaning procedures built from EPA and CDC guidance on approved
products and methods:
Disinfect high-touch areas of HVAC and other building service systems (e.g. on/off switches, thermostats)
Disinfect the interior of refrigerated
devices, e.g. refrigerators, where the virus can potentially survive
for long periods of time.
Run the system on minimum outside air when unoccupied.
Garage exhaust, if any, should run two hours before occupancy.
"Key elements of a strategy to limit the
spread of the COVID-19 virus are to perform needed heating, ventilating
and air conditioning (HVAC) system maintenance, including filter
changes, and to run HVAC equipment, prior to re-occupancy," said ASHRAE
Epidemic Task Force chair, ASHRAE Environmental Health Committee voting
member and 2013-14 ASHRAE Presidential Member Bill Bahnfleth.
A decrease in water usage in buildings closed or with limited access during the pandemic can increase the risk of bacteria growth in building plumbing and associated equipment. Facility managers and building owners can help mitigate the risk of waterborne pathogens, such as Legionella bacteria, the cause of Legionnaire's disease, by developing a water management plan. ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2018, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems establishes minimum legionellosis risk management requirements for building water systems.
"ASHRAE's building readiness guidance empowers building owners with resources and practical guidance for safer operation of HVAC systems as we cautiously transition into a post-COVID-19 world," said ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force chair of Building Readiness guidance Wade Conlan.
The task force also recommends guidance released in the newly updated ASHRAE Position Document "Infectious Aerosols," as well as the Emerging Issues Brief.
For extensive resources and strategies on safe building reopening, visit ashrae.org/COVID19.
Founded in 1894, ASHRAE is a global professional society committed to serve humanity by advancing the arts and sciences of heating ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and their allied fields.
As an industry leader in research, standards writing, publishing, certification and continuing education, ASHRAE and its members are dedicated to promoting a healthy and sustainable built environment for all, through strategic partnerships with organizations in the HVAC&R community and across related industries.
ASHRAE is celebrating 125 years of shaping the built environment. Become a member of ASHRAE by visiting ashrae.org/join.
For more information and to stay up-to-date on ASHRAE, visit ashrae.org and connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
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