Store opening sign

Where to Look for Facility Reopening Resources

  May 26, 2020

By Dan Hounsell

Many institutional and commercial facilities curtailed operations or shut down altogether in early spring to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Now, facility managers are in the process of returning these facilities to operations, and professional associations and government agencies are releasing guidance designed to ensure the process is safe and effective.

The ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has developed guidance on mitigating potential health risks during reopening of buildings. ASHRAE’s recommendations for reopening buildings are outlined in the frequently asked questions section of its COVID-19 Resources webpage.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Guidance for Reopening Buildings After Prolonged Shutdown or Reduced Operation that features added guidance for mold awareness, monitoring and remediation during and after prolonged building shutdowns, as well as updated Legionella guidance for people with weakened immune systems and the use of respiratory protection when flushing water systems. The CDC posted six one-page documents providing guidance for how schools, businesses and other organizations should reopen from coronavirus shutdowns.

More recently, the CDC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency corrected building reopening guidance that incorrectly stated the proper temperature setting for water heaters in offices, hotels, restaurants, schools and other large buildings with complex plumbing systems.

And the Federal Emergency Management Administration issues guidance on returning facilities to operations that helps organizations determine how to assess the status of personnel, assets and facilities. It also aims to help identify reopening considerations and develop and coordinate a plan to resume operations.

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


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