Infectious Disease Control Guidance: HVAC Edition

Amidst a time of uncertainty, a big concern with the population is our safety and health. This concern could be multiplied if you are a building owner or manager. Is the building safe? How do I ensure a person’s safety? Lots of questions might come up and your immediate reaction may be to contact the CDC or Google for what you should do. More than likely these sources do not know anything about your building or HVAC system specifically. In this 4 part series, I will lay out some options for consideration.

It can be confusing to read about all the solutions to improve indoor air quality within a building and might even leave you confused about what is the best solution for you. Every building is different and as a result, a solution is best tailored to your specific needs. At EVstudio our MEP team specializes in the design and/or retrofit of any Mechanical, Plumbing, and Electrical system. Along with this, our team continuously familiarizes ourselves with the latest technologies in air cleaning and filtration.

The main technologies that can be used to combat the spread of COVID-19 according to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide(VHP), Ultraviolet Irradiation using UV-C light, keeping the heat within the building moist, and HEPA air filters1,2. Technologies that I will cover in future articles of this series.

HVAC System
A portable vaporizer for Hydrogen Peroxide to cleanse a specific space to kill any lingering viruses
Typical mounting for a UV-C light aimed to irradiate the viruses present on your HVAC coils.
Typical HEPA filter

Despite knowing what technologies exist, which ones work best for you and your building as an owner? Can you just implement them all? For example, VHP is an extreme cleaning method in which Hydrogen Peroxide is distributed to all surfaces within a space in a gaseous form. This is extremely toxic to anybody within the space at the time and could result in injury if not done by a professional, as well as the process can take DAYS or WEEKS depending on the size of the space, in which, no one could occupy it. This might not be the best fit for a small way station for a delivery company which cannot afford much downtime. Whereas, Implementing UV-C lights and HEPA filters could be the easiest solution because of the quick install and low maintenance required resulting in very little downtime.

All the options can be overwhelming and at first, glance could seem expensive if you are thinking you will have to reconfigure your whole buildings HVAC system to combat this disease. Fortunately, you can consult EVstudio’s MEP team and talk with an expert to find a solution that can work with your time, budget, and specific building’s system to help ensure that your building is safe for occupation and decrease your chance of contracting the disease yourself.

Disclaimer: In no way should the HVAC changes and/or suggestions replace basic principles of social distancing such as keeping distance from others, surface cleaning, disinfection, and handwashing, etc.

Sources:

1Schoen, Lawrence. “Guidance for Building Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” ASHRAE Journal, May 2020, www.ashrae.org/file%20library/technical%20resources/ashrae%20journal/2020journaldocuments/72-74_ieq_schoen.pdf.

2HICPAC, et al. “Other Sterilization Methods.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Sept. 2016, www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/sterilization/other-methods.html.

VHP Portable Machine Source: https://www.cleanroomtechnology.com/news/article_page/Vaporous_biodecontamination_A_matter_of_efficiency/151247

UV-C Light Source: https://www.ultravation.com/ezuv-germicidal-uv-surface-treatment/

Filter Source: https://iscsales.com/item/24x18x11-1-2-biomax-hepa-filter-99-97-high-efficiency-k1182412-sbm/

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