The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment, has developed proactive guidance to help address coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) concerns with respect to the operation and maintenance of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems.
“The recent escalation in the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 is alarming on a global scale,” said 2019-20 ASHRAE President Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng. “While ASHRAE supports expanded research to fully understand how coronavirus is transmitted, we know that healthy buildings are a part of the solution. ASHRAE’s COVID-19 Preparedness Resources are available as guidance to building owners, operators and engineers on how to best protect occupants from exposure to the virus, in particular in relation to airborne particles that might be circulated by HVAC systems.”
Available on the webpage is ASHRAE’s recently approved position document on Airborne Infectious Diseases. The society’s position is that facilities of all types should follow, as a minimum, the latest practical standards and guidelines.
The following publications are referenced in the position document and on the resources webpage:
The position document also advises that new and existing healthcare intake and waiting areas, crowded shelters, and similar facilities should go beyond the minimum requirements of these documents, using techniques covered in ASHRAE’s Indoor Air Quality Guide to be even better prepared to control airborne infectious disease (including a future pandemic caused by a new infectious agent).
Because small particles remain airborne for some period of time, the design and operation of HVAC systems that move air can affect disease transmission in several ways, such as the following:
ASHRAE recommends the following strategies of interest to address disease transmission: dilution ventilation, laminar and other in-room flow regimes, differential room pressurization, personalized ventilation, source capture ventilation, filtration (central or unitary), and UVGI (upper room, in-room, and in the airstream).
Owners, operators, and engineers are encouraged to collaborate with infection prevention specialists knowledgeable about transmission of infection in the community and the workplace and about strategies for prevention and risk mitigation.
For access to the full position document, standards, publications, technical committees, research projects and other material to prepare for COVID-19, visit the ASHRAE COVID-19 Preparedness Resources webpage at www.ashrae.org/COVID19.