Optimize Your HVAC Systems to Reduce Infection Spread Risks

Mike Gerhardt

Mike Gerhardt, Intalere Sr. Director, Facility Management Advisory Solutions

For my healthcare facility manager colleagues out there, my thoughts are with you, your families and all your co-workers as you brace for the impending Coronavirus patient surge. I know most of you are on top of this, but I thought it may be helpful to compile summary tips from colleagues and the ASHRAE Position Document on Airborne Infections Diseases. For my non-healthcare facilities colleagues, maybe you will find some of the information useful for your homes and businesses.

  • Maximize outside air volume – Open those outside intake air dampers and crank up the exhaust to bring in as much fresh air as possible while achieving maximum comfort and code required limits.
  • Ensure optimal air filtration – Coronavirus particles are typically about 0.125 microns and can range from 0.06 to 0.14 microns. Typically, viruses attach themselves to larger particles. MERV14 air filters begin to trap some virus particles. Go with higher MERV rated filters if air flow is not impeded. For maximum filtration, use HEPA filters in high risk areas and equipment. Consider more frequent filter changeouts. Ensure maintenance staff are using PPE and are tightly bagging the used filters during changeouts.
  • Consider UVGI (Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation) – UV has been shown to be effective at killing or inactivating microorganisms. Lamp systems can be remotely utilized in ductwork or near the evaporator coils to attack viruses. Upper Room/In Room units are available that independently circulate and disinfect air in a single area. If you have had these systems installed for some time, ensure the lamps have been changed out at specified intervals to be certain their effectiveness has not deteriorated.
  • Pump up the humidity – Studies show that viruses are more infectious at low humidity. Set your humidification toward the high end of what is allowed by code.
  • Get remote help via your building automation system (BAS) – You may want to have your BAS provider or other expert remotely log into your system to get their opinion as to if you have optimized your system and minimized your risks. The remote interaction provides one less opportunity for a person to bring in or take out an infection to or from your facility.

Good luck and thanks for all you do to keep patients and co-workers safe. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me directly at mike.gerhardt@intalere.com.

We Can Help

Intalere provides a number of resources that can assist in the areas of facility management solutions as well as many other areas of your operations. Please reach out to us to see how we can help. Contact Customer Service at  877-711-5600 or customerservice@intalere.com or your Intalere representative.

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