Image by Vektor Kunst from Pixabay

ASHRAE has developed proactive guidance to help address coronavirus concerns concerning the operation and maintenance of HVAC systems. ASHRAE’s COVID-19 Preparedness Resources webpage, ashrae.org/COVID19, provides easily accessible resources for building-industry professionals. These include ASHRAE’s recently approved position document on airborne infectious diseases and links to the latest practice standards and guidelines.

“The recent escalation in the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 is alarming on a global scale,” said 2019-20 ASHRAE President Darryl K Boyce. “While ASHRAE supports expanded research to fully understand how coronavirus is transmitted, we know that healthy buildings are a part of the solution. ASHRAE’s COVID-19 Preparedness Resources are available as guidance to building owners, operators and engineers on how to best protect occupants from exposure to the virus, in particular with airborne particles that might be circulated by HVAC systems.”

The position document advises that new and existing healthcare intake and waiting areas, crowded shelters, and similar facilities should go beyond the minimum requirements, using techniques covered in ASHRAE’s Indoor Air Quality Guide to be even better prepared to control airborne infectious disease (including a pandemic caused by a new infectious agent). ASHRAE maintains that because small particles remain airborne for a while, the design and operation of HVAC systems that move air can affect disease transmission in several ways.

ASHRAE recommends the following strategies of interest to address disease transmission: dilution ventilation, laminar and other in-room flow regimes, differential room pressurisation, personalised ventilation, source capture ventilation, filtration (central or unitary), and UVGI (upper room, in-room, and in the airstream).