Ventilation in university buildings

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A team of Colorado State University Facilities Management experts and faculty members with expertise in energy and environmental health, public health experts and members of the University’s COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness Team have reviewed indoor air quality in all university buildings. 

All University buildings have been through a review process to reopen and operate. This process, which was conducted by Facilities Management, included water testing and a review of the mechanical system including HVAC systems. Buildings were not reopened if concerns could not be addressed.

Has air quality been improved in university buildings due to COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control does not currently recommend that universities take additional steps to modify HVAC systems. However, the University has taken the following steps:

  • The CDC recommends that Universities ensure that HVAC systems work properly, which has occurred through the Facilities Management building check.
  • Facilities Management has installed the highest “minimum efficiency reporting value” air filters applicable for building ventilation systems.
  • In specific situations, HEPA – high efficiency particulate air  — units are used in the classroom.
  • Outside air to building spaces has been increased when possible.
  • The university has lowered the occupancy per building, achieved through a limited return of faculty and staff. Lower occupancies increases effective dilution of air through ventilation per person, according to the CDC.

The CDC says that the sources of spread that are significant concern are person to person contact, being directly sneezed or coughed on, and not washing your hands.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends increasing outdoor air circulation – when possible – by opening doors and windows. Opening windows and doors is not recommended for Universities by the CDC for situations when students, faculty, etc., breathing increased outdoor air ventilation may trigger an asthma attack or other respiratory or health concerns. The Centers for Disease Control says that HVAC systems within medical facilities are the focus of air exchange concerns.

How often is air in university buildings turned over?

Ventilation systems in university buildings flush all the air in a building a minimum period of two hours before the start of each day, and for two hours at the completion of each day.

What expertise has been involved in reviewing indoor air quality in university buildings?

The University and Facilities Management team working on university building ventilation quality includes diverse experts in building automation system controls, mechanical heating and cooling system operations and maintenance, mechanical and electrical engineering. More information about Facilities Management protecting air quality in CSU buildings