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Higher Ed Ramps Up HVAC Checks for Fall Reopening


By Dan Hounsell HVAC
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Higher education facilities are planning to welcome back students and faculty this fall as the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be winding down. What the returning occupants will find in these facilities remains to be seen, but what is clear is that maintenance and engineering managers and their staffs are implementing an array of HVAC tactics and strategies designed to create safe spaces and ensure occupant health.

At the University of San Francisco, workers in facilities management have evaluated more than 600 air handling, conditioning and filtering units and are replacing 76 units that didn’t fit its standards. Facilities management staff checked for issues related to heating and cooling and  looked for the quality of ventilation for each unit to prevent airborne transmission of coronavirus.

At the University of Virginia, facilities management formed a task force that has worked to conserve energy while implementing measures that provide a safe indoor environment. The group concentrated on identifying and assessing nown HVAC mitigation measures and ranked them for implementation. One area the group focused on involves the use of high-efficiency filters and increased ventilation rates to provide an additional layer of mitigating airborne transmission in buildings.

At Simon Frasier University, facilities services audited ventilation on campuses, going into spaces, measuring airflow and verifying that the systems meet the best practice air quality standards for indoor environments. The audit includes about 1,000 rooms and involves checking plans and diagrams that are verified onsite by energy specialists, AC mechanics and HVAC balancing contractors.

Dan Hounsell is senior editor, Facility Market.

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