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CDC Guidelines Target Reopened Office Buildings


By Dan Hounsell Emergency Preparedness
Reopening of a building after quarantine COVID-19 emergency

Maintenance and engineering managers for months have been wondering just how deeply the COVID-19 pandemic would affect the occupancy, cleaning and operations of their institutional and commercial buildings. The answer, it seems, is very deeply.

Now that buildings are reopening and owners, managers and occupants are giving more consideration to potential health and safety issues workplaces might harbor — such as potential coronavirus touchpoints in restrooms — they also are trying to determine what changes they must make to ensure occupant safety and health. 

Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance on changes to workplace materials, practices and operations that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.0

Among the CDC’s recommendations is that managers review the CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers, which provides guidelines and recommendations designed to protect their workers and clients:

  • Ensure that ventilation systems in the facility operate properly. For building HVAC systems that have been shut down or on setback, review new construction start-up guidance provided in ASHRAE Standard 180-2018, Standard Practice for the Inspection and Maintenance of Commercial Building HVAC Systems.

  • Increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, and other methods. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk for current or subsequent occupants, including children, such as allowing outdoor environmental contaminants including carbon monoxide, molds or pollens into the building.

  • Evaluate the building and its mechanical and life safety systems to determine if the building is ready for occupancy. Check for hazards associated with prolonged shutdown, such as mold growth, rodents or pests and issues with stagnant water systems.


Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

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