The Office of Facilities Management at The University of Texas at Arlington is updating its safety practices in operating building ventilation systems to mitigate the risks of COVID-19.
The team is:
- working to ensure ventilation and filtering systems are operating properly,
- ensuring the systems control relative humidity,
increasing circulation of outdoor air through campus buildings.
“Social distancing, surface disinfection and good hygiene are far more important than anything related to the HVAC system,” said Donald Lange, director of auxiliary operations and logistics. “Regardless, we are taking extra steps to ensure our ventilation systems provide the cleanest and healthiest air possible as an added step of protection. We are doing so by using a combination of existing equipment and updated safety practices.”
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets generally fall to the ground or contaminate surfaces, where they can be picked up by hands or be rereleased into the air when disturbed.
UTA is following guidelines recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers to help address concerns related to COVID-19, Lange said. Those include:
- Increasing the use of outdoor air in ventilation systems wherever possible.
- This proportionally reduces the amount of recirculated air.
- Ensuring that ventilation systems in labs use 100% outside air and do not recirculate air to other spaces.
- Using the highest compatible Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value filters in existing ventilation units.
- Keeping ventilation systems running continuously.
“We want the UTA community to feel at ease knowing that we are doing everything we can to provide the highest quality air supply,” said Robb Chock, facilities engineer. “We continue to seek the most updated recommendations and practices from leading experts to inform our operational decisions.”
Check the Mavs Back 2020 site for more stories on what to expect as UTA safely returns to campus for fall 2020. You also can check the Coronavirus and Fall 2020 Semester page, which is UTA’s official site for up-to-date information on campus operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.