It’s important that committees have discussions related to disease transmission and ventilation systems. Contaminated air can be spread through a building’s mechanical HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system and the ability to control indoor air quality can vary greatly depending on system type.
Introducing fresh outdoor air is a critical strategy for reducing airborne contaminants, therefore it makes sense that ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, has recommended increasing outside air supply in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
There is a broad range of variation and flexibility when it comes to increasing outside air dependent on HVAC system type, age and control settings. An experienced mechanical engineer is qualified to understand your school’s system types and capabilities and suggest adjustments for optimal air quality and system operation when school restarts.
The best measurement to evaluate ventilation quality is a carbon dioxide reading. High CO2 levels are a warning of low outside (fresh) air circulation. Classrooms, hallways, and assembly areas should maintain a maximum CO2 concentration of 800-1000 Parts Per Million (ppm) while occupied. Collecting this data will give facility operators a good understanding of how systems are performing and what areas may need adjustments.
Another approach to indoor air quality is through filtration. ASHRAE recommends increasing the level of filtration at recirculating HVAC units, where possible, as an effort to reduce virus transmission. A mechanical engineer can assist with determining if you have the ability to increase filtration as part of your response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
KCL Engineering has created an Air Quality Assessment Game Plan to assist school districts address concerns from all stakeholders. Quick and economical services include an engineering review with recommendations, facility consultation maintenance staff, and testing CO2, temperature and humidity during occupancy.
Questions about Air Quality recommendations? Contact Mark LaCroix (515) 664-1683.