While the physical spacing of occupants, the wearing of masks, and surface disinfection can reduce the potential for infectious diseases to spread indoors, such measures do not eliminate the risk. Within the indoor environment, infectious aerosols can remain airborne for distances much larger than the 6 feet distance recommended for protection from droplets from potentially infectious persons. HVAC systems can play an important role in reducing the risk from infectious aerosols.
The following HVAC strategies can reduce the potential for indoor infectious disease spread during the current pandemic risk. We have categorized the strategies into three levels, with each level having increasing risk management potential. In general, the higher level strategies are generally more difficult, and sometimes infeasible to implement on existing HVAC systems and buildings. The strategies chosen by a facility manager should consider the level of risk at their facility, the acuteness of risk avoidance at their facility, as well as the feasibility of implementation.
Level 1 Strategies: Utilize air filters with a minimum MERV 13 efficiency; increase ventilation rates; ventilate 24/7; flush the building with outside air pre- and post-occupancy each day.
Level 2 Strategies: Utilize air filters with a minimum MERV 14 efficiency; bring in as much outside air as possible while maintaining indoor comfort.
For buildings that have had an extended dormant period, plumbing systems strategies are required to reduce the risk of spreading Legionella bacteria and the associated illnesses, and for containing sewer gases.
These HVAC and plumbing strategies are discussed in more detail below.
Level 1 HVAC Strategies to Reduce Pandemic Risk
Level 2 HVAC Strategies to Reduce Pandemic Risk
In addition to the Level 1 strategies outlined above:
Level 3 HVAC Strategies to Reduce Pandemic Risk
Plumbing System Recommendations
After an extended dormant period, the following plumbing strategies should be considered:
To speak with a representative from our Mechanical Standards group regarding operation of and enhancement to your mechanical system in order to reduce the risks of COVID-19 in your office or workplace, send us an email at MEPEngineer@pbanet.com or call us at 248-879-5666.