COVID-19 Campus Facilities Guidelines

HVAC and Water Systems

Air Conditioning and Heating: In line with state guidance, the university follows the advice of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE’s) Position Document on Infectious Aerosols, dated April 14, 2020, which asserts that keeping air conditioners on can help control the spread of the virus.

According to considerable research, strategically engineered ventilation systems can reduce the risk from infectious aerosols through effective airflow patterns that dilute contaminants and even remove infectious agents (CDC 2005).

Following the ANSI/ASHRAE Standards 62.1 and 62.2 (ASHRAE 2019a, 2019b), Facilities is implementing the following tasks to support a safe environment within university facilities:

  • All HVAC systems will be adjusted to optimize the amount of outside air. This exhausts a maximum amount of interior air and draws in fresh air to be cooled (or heated) and distributed throughout the building. Energy recovery ventilation systems will be minimized to reduce recirculating potential contaminates. This will reduce performance on extreme temperature days and we will sacrifice some comfort to promote a safe environment.
  • All HVAC filtrations will be replaced to provide MERV-13 or the highest level achievable. Systems that are able to accommodate HEPA filtration will receive new HEPA filters.
  • HVAC systems will run for longer durations (24/7 if possible) to maintain a continual replacement of air volume, improving airflow and air quality.
  • Bipolar ionization units have been added to systems to help bind airborne contaminates to ensure collection within the filtration systems.
  • Relative Humidity (RH) set points will be maintained between 40% and 60%. This range of humidity is most unfavorable for the survival of microorganisms.

These measures will not fully eliminate the risk of transmission, but deploying this series of mitigation measures will help reduce the risk of infection within our spaces.


Property managers for our leased facilities have been contacted to ensure similar guidelines are being followed. Once their organization’s safe reopening plans are received, they will be shared with the stakeholders of those spaces to ensure all occupants are informed.

Protocol for HVAC Failure: Occupants should notify Facilities in the event of a ventilation failure. If the failure cannot be resolved quickly by Facilities, supervisors are advised to vacate their teams from the building. Building leaders will be expected to notify all active classes within the building that they will need to vacate the facility. Evacuations should be processed in an orderly fashion while maintaining social distancing guidelines. If Facilities determine that the failure cannot be restored within the hour, classes will need to be canceled or relocated for that day. Facilities will notify the Registrar’s Office, which will reassign locations for the remaining classes.

All employees who reside within the affected facility will convert to working remotely and await notice to return to their workstations or an assigned interim location. Facilities will provide estimated times to the Registrar’s Office and department supervisors for restoring service to affected spaces.