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Students and faculty are not returning to higher education facilities with HVAC systems in mind when it comes to indoor health. Certainly, the coronavirus and COVID-19 are on top of many priority lists. Managers know all too well that facilities that sat unused or lightly used for months starting in March present other challenges to occupant health. Consider the role of plumbing systems in general and restrooms in particular.
Managers can consider a range of upgrades to ensure the efficiency and safety of these systems. To promote effective handwashing, some new faucets feature an integrated timer that allow users to wet their hands. The timer then runs for 20 seconds and does not turn the water back on until the timer has lapsed. Upgrading to all touchless fixtures and devices is also important.
Managers also need to take a step back and look at the domestic water system to ensure water quality. Water management plans are critical when buildings have sat vacant for extended periods of time. Flushing and disinfecting are key components of this plan, along with continuous water-quality testing. Managers can consult ASHRAE 188 Guideline 12 for typical standards for water management plans.
Two final recommendations on ensuring the health of indoor environments:
• Regularly review manuals, sequences of operation and setpoints for current facility or building systems, and document any changes.
• Check ASRHAE's website regularly, especially updates from the Epidemic Task Force, to stay abreast of changing guidelines or recommendations for further system upgrades.
Kari Rosteck is a project engineer with Horizon Engineering Associates. Rostek’s background includes designing, evaluating and troubleshooting building mechanical HVAC and plumbing systems. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University.
Keep a Close Eye on Water Management