Your Ventilation System: COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines & Tips
When it comes to COVID-19 reopening, California businesses and establishments are all over the place. You might be fully open, operating at partial capacity, operating outdoors or online only, or completely closed. No matter what your situation is, however, one thing is for certain:
Your building should be working to integrate new procedures and equipment that limits COVID-19 spread and creates a safer environment for all building occupants.
While limiting the spread of various germs and harmful particles is nothing new for businesses, limiting the spread of COVID-19 is new. Let’s quickly cover the COVID-19 reopening guidelines for critical building systems and provide some insight on how to best combat the spread of this particular virus through your indoor ventilation system.
Official COVID-19 Reopening Strategies + Resources
Each organization has released a series of handbooks, strategies, and training related to COVID-19. You can find information on the CDC guidelines for reopening schools in 2020, COVID-19 transmission data, COVID-19 workplace guidelines, and more.
According to the CDC, the primary strategy for reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace includes the following tasks:
- Conducting daily health checks
- Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
- Encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
- Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace
- Improving the building ventilation system
When it comes to improving your building’s ventilation system specifically, we have decades of combined and critical first-hand experience. Over the years, we’ve adopted and fine-tuned strategies to mitigate the potential risk your HVAC system could play in the spread of viruses such as COVID-19.
When dealing with a virus of this nature, there are a variety of factors and COVID-19 protocols to consider when evaluating your mechanical system and implementing improvements. This is why it is recommended by both ASHRAE and the CDC to work closely with a partner like BMI Mechanical in order to mitigate risk both now and in the future.
How to Improve your Building Ventilation System
To prepare for improvements to your indoor ventilation system, we begin with ECiP (Epidemic Conditions in Place) Guidelines. These guidelines are recommended in some form or fashion by both the CDC and ASHRAE. They are as follows:
Building Evaluation & Mitigation Report
This is an evaluation of key metrics that allow us to determine the current state of your system. During this phase, we will need to gather and review any and all documents, designs, service contracts, logs, reports, and manuals. On top of this, we will conduct a thorough inspection of your system, combine it with all relevant data and material collected, and create a full picture of what’s going on with your mechanical system. This will include any gaps, deficiencies, and recommendations.
Increased Ventilation & Increased Filtration
Next up, we will make the necessary changes to increase ventilation and filtration in your space. This involves measuring and tweaking the outside air ratio. It is recommended to have 10%-20% outside air; however, this will vary depending on your particular equipment, building, and day-to-day operations.
We will also examine and explore your options related to your filtration needs. We recommend using a filter with a MERV rating of 6-8; however, this can vary, as well. Technically speaking, your filter can have a MERV rating anywhere between 1 and 16. A higher rating means that your filter can effectively capture smaller particles. This higher rating also means a restrictive air flow and added stress on your equipment. We can help you identify and implement which MERV rating is appropriate for your situation.
“Unoccupied” System Operation
Another crucial step is to analyze and make the necessary adjustments to your “unoccupied” settings. This is done to maintain the integrity and functionality of your equipment since extended periods of inactivity can have a lasting negative impact on your system.
We will create an unoccupied system setting and provide you with override capabilities (if necessary) to encourage flexibility and customization.
Additional COVID-19 Guidelines to Follow
- Prior to reopening, run your AC system for at least two full hours with the doors and windows open.
- Upon completion, shut all doors and windows and run your system in standard occupied mode for 24 hours.
- Conduct a full operational test and inspection of your equipment. This will ensure everything runs smoothly when guests and employees are permitted back inside your building (ensuring continued safety and health in the process).
- Every day, conduct an air flush before the building is open for guests and employees. This can be done by running the system in occupied mode for at least two hours.
Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization Reduces COVID-19 Spread
Following COVID-19 reopening guidelines is just one piece of the puzzle. We also want to implement new technologies that clean and disinfect the air in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
To do this, we rely on a technology known as Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (NPBI). NPBI modules are installed onto your existing HVAC units. These modules work to neutralize odors, kill pathogens, and reduce particles in the air without adding harmful by-products into the space.
Unlike passive technologies such as UV Lighting and higher rated filters, NPBI leverages cold plasma to create electrically charged oxygen ions. These ions go into your air supply to seek out and destroy harmful particles.
NPBI is recommended by both ASHRAE and the CDC and can provide lasting benefits for your organization. Even if (or when) a COVID-19 vaccine is found, NPBI can help with allergies, odors, and the flu season.
BMI Mechanical is here to help you reopen safely
Our team at BMI Mechanical is here to help you create a safer environment for your guests and employees. We want to make sure your mechanical system has what it takes to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep your space clean for all those inside it.
If you need help understanding and following COVID-19 reopening guidelines for your ventilation and filtration system, give us a call today or fill out our online contact form. We’d love to help you reopen safely.
The median service life of a package air conditioner is 15 years. ASHRAE
Since 2004, BMI has provided our company with an outstanding HVAC Preventive Maintenance Program. I must say that the ‘details’ are in place at BMI. Their technicians are courteous, on time, knowledgeable and are able to take care of any problems on their first visit. Dave Cavanaugh Operations Manager UNISOURCE