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Service Matters: Building Operations Recommendations During COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, April 10, 2020

Speer Mechanical is committed to continuing to provide the best service for our customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a highly infectious respiratory disease which includes symptoms such as cough, fever, tiredness, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), “COVID-19 primarily spreads through droplets or particles of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes…” Following the guidelines set by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO including following stay at home orders, social distancing, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, installing additional hand sanitation dispensers, and supervising or closing food preparation areas, coffee stations, and drinking fountains will help to flatten the curve and reduce the number of infections.

Many public buildings, considered essential, remain open. This includes food, hardware, drug stores, banks, and healthcare facilities.

Though HVAC systems in non-medical buildings only play a small role in transmission of the disease, systems would circulate the mentioned droplets and particles which could infect someone. Per the guidance from global society, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), Speer Mechanical recommends the following actions for HVAC systems in non-medical buildings:

  • Increase outdoor air ventilation (use caution in highly polluted areas); with a lower population in the building, this increases the effective dilution ventilation per person.
    • Disable demand-controlled ventilation (DCV).
    • Further open minimum outdoor air dampers, as high as 100%, thus eliminating recirculation (in the mild weather season, this need not affect thermal comfort or humidity, but clearly becomes more difficult in extreme weather).
  • Improve central air filtration to the MERV-13  or the highest compatible with the filter rack, and seal edges of the filter to limit bypass.
  • Keep systems running longer hours, if possible 24/7, to enhance the two actions above.
  • Consider portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters.
  • Consider UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation), protecting occupants from radiation, particularly in high-risk spaces such as waiting rooms, prisons and shelters.

Many construction sites already follow many of the guidelines as most, but not all, are outdoors or partially enclosed and are well ventilated and workers already use personal protective equipment including masks and gloves.

There is no vaccine for COVID-19. As a community, we have a responsibility to each other to control the spread of the disease.

For more information, please visit the following websites:

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/

Center For Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/

ASHRAE: https://www.ashrae.org/news/ashraejournal/guidance-for-building-operations-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

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