Moving America Indoors: What Does This Mean for Building HVAC?

  • Expert Tips

Air conditioning has become an essential comfort for many during the summer months, but many are concerned that buildings without proper filtration and ventilation are contributing to the spread of COVID-19. We are here to share the latest COVID-19 updates to equip building owners and facilities managers with the knowledge they need to make the right decision for their building and its occupants.

The World Health Organization has now concluded that the virus is airborne in crowded, indoor spaces with poor ventilation.

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo is requiring all malls to implement an enhanced HVAC system and follow proper ventilation protocols. Cuomo announced that these “HVAC systems will be required to include filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value – or MERV – rating  of 13 which filters out the COVID-19 virus, but can, if the system makes additional protections, run on a minimum MERV of 11. Ventilation protocols include increased outdoor air, reduced air circulation, longer system run times and frequent filter checks.”

As we work to reopen indoor spaces this summer, building managers are figuring out how to reopen safely and prevent infection. “Building owners and operators are looking at what they can do to make their buildings safer. It’s not just a real risk, it’s a psychological risk,” said William Bahnfleth. Bahnfleth is an expert on indoor air at Pennsylvania State University and chair of the epidemic task force at ASHRAE, a global expert body on the management of building systems.

Bahnfleth also explains that HEPA filters, which capture microscopic particles are already used in airplanes and operating rooms and can protect you from viruses in the air. Researchers agree this is not necessarily the only solution for every building. It is  important to consult with an HVAC expert to determine the best solution for your building.

As research continues to be conducted, scientists are beginning to speculate that the southern states’ recent rise in COVID-19 cases could be connected to more time spent indoors without proper ventilation as hot temperatures are driving people inside in states like Texas, Arizona and Florida, who have all posted their highest daily case counts this week.

We agree that all buildings circulate air differently and require unique solutions to improve occupant safety. As we comb through the data, we will continue to make recommendations to help alleviate the pressure that many building managers are facing.

Assess the readiness of your building during COVID-19 with our Enervise Building Health ReportAs your HVAC & Controls company, Enervise is equipped to provide a facility health report to ensure building managers are taking the right steps to protect their occupants. Our building health checklist will provide you with customized review of your equipment, indoor air quality checks, approved filter changing and cleaning procedures and recommendations.