COVID Recovery: Building Filtration & Ventilation

In preparation for the return to higher occupancy levels on campus, Facilities Management has been hard at work to ensure that indoor environments are clean and safe.  

 

Facilities Management continues to review and implement the latest recommendations made by ASHRAE, CDC and other industry leaders and is actively piloting and evaluating new technologies and products that promote indoor air quality.  Facilities Management is also exploring how these efforts may both support and be supported by research efforts being conducted and considered on campus.
 
It is important to understand that no improvement to IAQ is a replacement for good personal practices including social distancing, wearing a mask and washing one’s hands. 
 
MAINTENANCE: Efforts include the evaluation and preventive maintenance of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in each building so they may provide a high degree of indoor air quality.  Each building’s system is unique but in general, we are ensuring these systems are operating at their peak condition and in conformance with campus and Board of Regents standards, as well as industry best practices.
 
FILTRATION & ULTRAVIOLET GERMICIDAL IRRADIATION: Georgia Tech’s design and construction campus standards currently require central station air handling equipment to utilize MERV 13 filters and UV lights for all new construction and major renovations.  Filters in older buildings are being upgraded to MERV 13 where the HVAC equipment allows.
Facilities has inventoried the air handling equipment in ALL buildings to ensure that filters are clean and UV lights operational.
 
VENTILATION: Ventilation rate is the rate that fresh air flows into a space. Facilities Management is evaluating the ventilation rates and ability to modify these rates throughout campus. Where possible, ventilation rates will be increased ahead of the fall semester. The reduction of occupancy coupled with increases in outdoor air will provide for ventilation rates that exceed normal requirements.  All building central station air handling equipment will operate 24/7.
 
PORTABLE MEASURES:  Facilities Management is currently procuring and testing a limited number of portable HEPA filter units with UV lights.  These units will be deployed in pilot studies to evaluate effectiveness.
 
LABORATORIES:  Per BOR standards laboratories provide a minimum air change rate of 6 air changes per hour when occupied. Laboratory ventilation systems have and will continue to operate 24/7. The use of UV lights, continued operation of the HVAC systems and air change rate of 6 per hour are all consistent with the American Society for Heating and Ventilation Engineer’s (ASHRAE) recently published Position Document on Infectious Aerosols.