COVID & IAQ: New Best Practices Webinar Series Offers Insights from ASHRAE
During October, we launched the enVerid Systems COVID-19 and IAQ: New Best Practices Webinar Series featuring experts from ASHRAE’s Epidemic Task Force (ETF) who shared recent research and discussed the ETF’s latest guidance for HVAC strategies. The phenomenal response to the webinars, with several hundred registrants per session, has demonstrated the high degree of interest in this topic and the commitment of facility managers and engineers to keep pace with the constantly evolving information.
We kicked off the series on Oct. 8th, welcoming Luke Leung, chair of the ASHRAE Epidemic Taskforce Commercial Buildings Subcommittee, to share his insight on the latest research on airborne transmission.
Luke’s remarks were divided into a discussion of environmental factors and a look at ventilation and filtration strategies. Some key take-aways from his excellent presentation:
- There is overwhelming evidence that the COVID-19 virus is airborne and can survive for some time in the air and on surfaces. The recent update from the CDC highlights airborne transmission
- Key environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and light have a significant impact on the survival of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the air and on surfaces
- High-efficiency filters are nearly as effective as dilution from a risk standpoint and more cost effective from an energy standpoint
- With winter coming, there will need to be more filtration and recirculation of indoor air using high efficiency filters
Last week, on Oct. 22nd we welcomed the Chair of ASHRAE’s Epidemic Task Force, Prof. Bill Banfleth, to discuss updated ETF core recommendations. Bill spoke to the evolution of ASHRAE’s guidance and how a new appreciation for energy penalties and the impact of increased outdoor air ventilation on operational costs has shifted key elements of its core recommendations. Among the highlights:
- Initial ASHRAE guidance in April and May was very conservative and developed without consideration for cost and operational impacts
- Ongoing reassessment, including “equivalent outdoor air” approaches, has led to refinements that achieve similar levels of protection through filtration with lower cost and energy use impacts
- New “core recommendations” being developed by ASHRAE will recommend required minimum outdoor (62.1), MERV 13 filtration for recirculated air, and standalone HEPA filters, UV-C or other technologies demonstrated to be effective/safe to exceed baseline outdoor air and filtration requirements (e.g., air change targets)
- The new recommendations recognize that increasing ventilation rates is expensive, energy intensive, and not always technically feasible and that enhanced filtration is as effective and lower cost
- HVAC protections affect only one of several transmission risk elements and must be combined with other measures known to be effective (masks, distancing, hygiene, etc.)
Luke and Bill answered many questions during the Q&A periods, but many more queries were posed than they had time to respond to in our time frame. We are currently working with Luke and Bill to get answers to those questions and will follow up to share them.
To access recordings of both Luke Leung’s and Bill Bahnfleth’s webinar sessions and their slide decks, please click here.
We encourage you to watch the third webinar in this series with Dr. Marwa Zaatari, ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer and member of the ETF Commercial Buildings subcommittee. Marwa will discuss a number of tools for estimating infection risk and prescribing equivalent air changes, and will debut a new tool that calculates cost and carbon impact associated with various COVID-19 mitigation strategies.
Doug Engel is SVP Sales and Marketing, enVerid Systems
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