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CORONAVIRUS RISK MITIGATION FOR HVAC SYSTEMS

Your building’s HVAC system may have a role to play in mitigating the risks associated with building occupants contracting and transmitting COVID-19 and other hazardous pathogens. While there is no silver bullet, the following guide will provide building owners with preliminary awareness and guidance concerning possible mitigation options for their HVAC systems.

Determining appropriate Coronavirus mitigation measures is largely predicated upon the likelihood of the virus being present in the building, as well as occupancy dynamics that may contribute to the transmission of the virus to occupants if it is present. Once this risk is considered, the suitability of various mitigation options can be filtered according to the unique design and operational considerations of the building, and in consideration of initial and ongoing costs. The most appropriate measure(s) for any given building will ultimately depend upon a multitude of interdependent factors that the building owner will want to consider in consultation with their mechanical systems engineer to fully understand the engineering and cost implications associated with each option.

RELATIVE RISK

Buildings do not manifest the Coronavirus on their own. People (building occupants) introduce the virus into them. If a building occupant is infected, the risk of the virus being transmitted to others is greatly influenced by how occupants use the building. Therefore, evaluating risk is largely a function of assessing the likelihood of the Coronavirus being introduced into the building and being transmitted to others.

Because risk, as being discussed here, cannot be determined definitively with any degree of confidence, risk determination is approached in a relative context. For example, the risk of the Coronavirus being introduced and transmitted in a small, private office is relatively lower than a public health clinic. Below are parameters owners may wish to consider when evaluating their building’s relative risk.

RISK ASSESSMENT PARAMETERS

Risk Score
Occupant Access Private 1 2 3 4 5 Public
Occupancy Volume Low 1 2 3 4 5 High
Occupancy Density Low 1 2 3 4 5 High
Occupant Movement Static 1 2 3 4 5 Dynamic
Occupant Duration Short 1 2 3 4 5 Long

RELATIVE RISK BY BUILDING TYPE

Below are relative risk assessment scores for common building types based on the Risk Assessment Parameters above, using general assumptions. Please select your building type.

ASSESS YOUR BUILDING'S RELATIVE RISK

Because building and occupancy circumstances vary significantly and owners differ in their risk aversion, the building owner or operator is often in the best position to make risk-related assessments, perhaps with some professional guidance. Referring to the Risk Assessment Categories above, use the tool below to assess your own building’s relative risk.

Assess your building by entering a score for each risk parameter. Your weighted score will fall into one of Relative Risk Categories. When assigning scores, you may wish to consider social distancing and other practices that will be used (e.g. staggered schedules, reduced hours, etc.).

Score
Occupant Access
Occupancy Traffic (Volume)
Occupancy Density
Occupant Flow (Movement)
Occupant Duration
Overall Weighted Score: TBD

RELATIVE RISK

Low

Moderate

High

1.0

2.0

3.0

4.0

5+

RISK MITIGATION MEASURES TO CONSIDER

Below is preliminary guidance concerning HVAC mitigation methods based on your selections above. Owners should remain mindful that the viability and practicality of certain mitigation measures is highly dependent upon facility specific circumstances, as well as the impact of other mitigation measures being considered. Owners are encouraged to contact our team prior to making commitments to ensure they are aware of all the technical ramifications on the building’s operations resulting from the mitigation methods being considered.

Select a building type above to view recommendations.
Risk Mitigation Measure Prudent Conservative Aggressive
Increase Outside Air
Increase Total Air Volume
Increase Exhaust Air Volume
Improve Humidity Control
Increase HVAC Operating Hours
Disable Energy Recovery Wheel
Improve Air Filtration - Mechanical
Improve Air Filtration - Electronic
UV-C Air Purification
Ionized Air Purification
Improve Directional Air Flow
Implement Pressure Differential

RISK MITIGATION IMPACT & COSTS

Relative Impact

Relative Cost

Risk Mitigation Measure

Initial

Ongoing

Best

Low

Moderate

Good

Low

Moderate

Good

Low

Moderate

Better

Moderate

Moderate

Good

Low

Moderate

Good

Low

Moderate

Better

Moderate

Low

Better

Moderate

Low

Better

High

Moderate

Best

Moderate

Low

Good

High

Low

Good

High

Moderate