Guest Post: Mechanical, Electrical, & Plumbing Recommendations for Re-Opening

Date: Aug 3, 2020 11:34:44 AM

By: Melissa Kops

Proper ventilation is one of the most important criteria for providing a safe environment. Kohler Ronan, one of our engineering partners, has some great advice we wanted to share as offices and schools plan to reopen.


Covid-19 Workplace Recommendations And Strategies For Existing Buildings

Kohler Ronan has developed some brief guidelines to prepare our clients for re-entry into their places of business amid the Covid-19 crisis. These guidelines identify operational and safety procedures which, if possible, should be implemented, updated, or enhanced prior to the reoccupation of physical work space. The modifications below are aimed at reducing Covid-19-related risks in order to provide as healthy a work environment as possible for returning employees. In some cases, an engineer may be required to evaluate existing systems to determine if modifications are feasible


Stage One - Preparing the Building (Prior to Occupancy)

  • Replace air filters. Utilize filters  that are gasketed where available.
  • Run HVAC systems for a period of time such as 48 hours.
  • Ensure that water systems such as toilets, faucets, etc. are operational by flushing and cleaning toilets and running and cleaning faucets on a regular basis. This may prevent the buildup of bacteria and/ or viruses within the water system.
  • Check P-traps to confirm that water seals have not dried out due to lack of water.  Revise equipment schedules to circulate airflow for a longer period of time beyond the normal occupied hours, 24 hours a day, if possible.
  • Increase outside air intake at the air handling unit.
  • Disable demand control ventilation controls.
  • Utilize operable windows when feasible and outdoor conditions permit.
  • Maintain temperature and humidity of 68 to 75 degrees and 40% to 60% RH levels.
  • Provide high-efficiency filtration units (either ceiling mounted or portable).
  • Bypass energy recovery systems which could potentially reintroduce contaminants into the airflow system.
Stage Two - Improving Building Systems (Post Occupancy)
  • Replace air filters on a regular basis, every 3 months.
  • Replace existing air filters with MERV 13 or the highest level achievable.
  • Have a certified air balancer take airflow readings at the air handling unit’s main supply and outside air ductwork connection to confirm that the proper airflow rates required to meet the original design are being maintained.
  • Install ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) units within existing air handling equipment/distribution.
  • Provide portable humidifiers to maintain between 40-60% RH within the space.

Stage Three - Future Considerations

  • Increase outside air ventilation rates and air changes per hour pending updates from ASHRAE and Building Codes.
  • Provide local exhaust in occupied spaces where applicable.
  • Provide a permanent humidification system to maintain 40-60% RH throughout the workplace.
  • Retro-commission existing building systems to ensure that they are operating per design and per any updated modifications.

You can access the full PDF here.

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