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ASHRAE’s Epidemic Task Force Releases Guidance for Re-Opening Schools and Universities

ASHRAE’s Epidemic Task Force Releases Guidance for Re-Opening Schools and Universities

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The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has released guidance on how to safely re-open schools and universities by improving indoor air quality and slowing the transmission rate of the COVID-19 virus. Stark Tech Group is a collaborative, cross-functional team that can provide integrative, cost-effective solutions for any type of building, portfolio, or project.

Schools are beginning to slowly and cautiously re-open their doors to in-class instruction. As some districts are moving from hybrid education models to four and five days of in-person learning, concerns around safety and transmission risk continue to loom.

ASHRAE states, “Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning [HVAC] systems can reduce airborne exposures.”1 The top priority remains protecting the health, safety, and welfare of students and staff from the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, reviewing the ventilation and indoor air quality of the buildings should play an integral role in any roll-out plan to get children back to class in person, full time. (It is important to state that adherence to these ASHRAE guidelines should not serve as a complete replacement for other cautionary prevention measures such as mask wearing and social distancing).

The first step in preparing your school or university for full-time re-opening is to determine your building’s readiness in accordance with existing and updated operation protocols. ASHRAE lists steps to take, including:

  1. Creating a District or Campus Health and Safety Committee.
  2. Developing policies for staff and contractor PPE requirements.
  3. Operating all HVAC systems in occupied mode for a minimum period of time before resuming full occupancy.
  4. A Checklist for Unoccupied Buildings Prior to Occupying2
  5. A Startup Checklist for HVAC Systems Prior to Occupancy3. These checklists cover everything from general inspection processes to how to prepare your domestic water systems.

Once you have assessed your building’s readiness, it is essential to continue to run equipment and system specific checks and verifications all throughout the academic year. Mechanical systems should be flushed daily prior to occupancy, while the following systems should be inspected monthly and annually.

Recommended timelines

Monthly:

  • Boiler systems
  • Chilled water, hot water, and condenser water systems
  • Air cooled chillers
  • Water cooled chillers
  • Cooling towers and evaporative-cooled devices
  • Steam distribution systems
  • HVAC Water distribution systems
  • Air handling units
  • Roof top units
  • Unitary and single zone equipment

Annually:

  • Pumps and associated electrical components

ASHRAE also provides new/modified facility design recommendations and guidelines. These guidelines include – but are not limited to – winter classroom design guidelines, ventilation and filtration design guidelines, and local HVAC unit guidelines.

While it is important to continuously monitor, inspect, and assess your building operations, it is just as important to gather, review, and record information collected while doing these inspections for future use. Performing a monthly, bi-annual, and/or annual data analysis and review can improve efficiency and save on future costs for your building.  

Stark Tech Group, including our legacy companies – U&S Services, R.L. Kistler, T.P. Woodside, Buckpitt, Technical Building Services in New York, and mc2 in Florida – is available to assist with your building checkups, system updates, and any new system upgrades or replacement requirements you may need.

Stark Tech Group is a single agent source for Building Automation, Intelligence & Equipment offering a unique customer experience throughout the entire building lifecycle. We offer customized building management solutions that maximize safety, comfort, and efficiency.

Sources:

  1. ASHRAE, “ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force: Schools and Universities”, October 7, 2020
  2. ASHRAE, “Checklist for Unoccupied Buildings Prior to Occupying”, October 2020
  3. ASHRAE, “Startup Checklist for HVAC Systems Prior to Occupancy”, October 2020
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