Business Re-entry, HVAC Operations
& Energy Impact
The COVID-19 pandemic is shifting the way people live, work and play. Those in charge of managing a business, a facility, or an office building are now faced with applying elevated health and cleaning measures to ensure a healthier environment and better safety for their employees and customers, such as increasing ventilation and disinfecting spaces.
While engineering controls for ventilation and HVAC systems are critical considerations for building operations, it’s important to remember that the most effective means to prevent the transmission of any virus remain physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, surface cleaning and disinfection, and the use of face masks.
“Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of HVAC systems can reduce airborne exposures”
In regards to the operation of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems in buildings to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission:
“Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus.”
Re-entry and Reopening of Your Building
When preparing your building or facility for reopening, we recommend going through the following HVAC system checklist to ensure the proper operations of all building subsystems (checklist courtesy of ASHRAE):
We also recommend conducting the following HVAC system checks:
Potential Energy and Cost Impacts of HVAC Operational Changes
As buildings come back online with increased HVAC operations for the comfort and safety of its occupants, facility operators can expect to see their electricity costs go up, especially when implementing additional measures for improved air quality.
For more information on how Hawai‘i Energy can assist you with your energy bill contact one of our advisors at hawaiienergy.com/our-team. For commercial buildings, contact Hoang Tran at HOANG.H.TRAN@leidos.com
Suggested HVAC Operations
In general, Hawai‘i Energy considers the following best practices for commercial office building operations to be in line with the guidance provided by ASHRAE, EPA and CDC:
“COVID-19 is a virus the scientific community is still learning about and the content we are sharing are best practices from the industry to help guide you, but they do not guarantee it will reduce or eliminate the transmission of the disease. For official COVID-19 guidance, please follow CDC guidelines” (with CDC guidelines).
We encourage you to read the guidance below, from multiple resources, for general HVAC system maintenance and filter replacements, air filtration, air disinfection and surface disinfection. Additionally, you may find guidance for specific technology types, such as mechanical air filters, electronic air filters, UV-C systems, etc. Although these technologies may be effective, we recommend using care and professional judgement to understand the pros and cons of each and the impacts on existing building systems
ASHRAE and CDC Guidance
- ASHRAE EPIDEMIC TASK FORCE Healthcare Guidance | Updated 05-04-2020
- ASHRAE FAQs
- ASHRAE Technical Resources
- CDC - Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020
- Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 – March 19, 2020
- OSHA – Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
AIA Resources for Architects
BOMA International’s Coronavirus Resource Center