ASHRAE Offers COVID-19 Building Readiness/Reopening Guidance

The ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has developed guidance on mitigating potential health risks during reopening of buildings closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have reached a time where planning for a safe return to normal activities has become a priority,” said 2019-2020 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.”

The group’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:

Prior to opening a building, create a strategic plan that includes 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 occupants.

If the building opening takes place when personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements are still in place, reference ASHRAE’s Occupancy Guides 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); and 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.

“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.

For extensive resources and strategies on safe building reopening, vist ashrae.org/COVID19.

SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, May 14, 2020. Weekly Propane Newsletter subscribers receive all the latest posted and spot prices from major terminals and refineries around the U.S. delivered to inboxes every week. Receive a center spread of posted prices with hundreds of postings updated each week, along with market analysis, insightful commentary, and much more not found elsewhere.