Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Guidelines Associated with COVID-19
Facilities Operations at Texas State University is operating the HVAC systems at E&G buildings on both the Texas State and Round Rock campuses based on recommendations from ASHRAE, CDC and the University Health, Wellness, and Safety Work Group . In response to the University switching to remote work and instruction, Facilities Operations adjusted HVAC systems based on unoccupied or partially occupied temperature, humidity, and air flow setting. Maintenance technicians have performed routine heightened preventive maintenance on HVAC systems across the campuses during this time to assure they operate at or above original specifications. The maintenance includes filter changes and coil cleanings.
As we look to return to campus, Facilities Operations will be following the recommendations of leading HVAC maintenance and operations professional and government organizations. Additionally, the CDC, OSHA, ASHRAE, and the EPA have all provided HVAC related guidance. ASHRAE guidance is the most comprehensive and specifically focused on HVAC systems. Texas State is implementing these initiatives:
Maximize the amount of fresh air (outside air) constantly introduced into our buildings: The vast majority of campus HVAC systems are configured such that technicians can control the amount of outside air. All related regulatory agencies and organizations agree that the best practice is to increase the fresh air intake. It should be noted that based upon the information models currently available, increasing the fresh air intake within the system design limits will have beneficial effect in reducing transmission of COVID-19.
Decrease temperature while maintaining humidity control: The vast majority of campus HVAC systems have continued to operate during the spring 2020 remote school and work schedule. HVAC systems will, where mechanically possible, be adjusted to provide lower temperature and maintain humidity levels in classrooms and common areas to facilitate higher air flows and increased air exchange. This includes the introduction of more outside air.
Space Pressurization: HVAC equipment serving our laboratory, research, and medical spaces will continue to operate optimally as designed and provide the necessary differential pressure to maintain laboratory isolation to surrounding spaces. This will require systems to work harder to overcome increases in outside air intake. Systems will be set to accommodate this increased workload.
Increasing airflow/air changes per hour: Texas State’s existing ventilation and fresh air combination meet or exceed ASHRAE’s recommended minimums for normal operations. Given we will not be operating normally, we will be increasing fresh air intake in all campus E&G buildings. This will require lower than normal temperature in the HVAC units as well as in conditioned spaces to control air flow and humidity.