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Key Takeaways from ASHRAE's New Guidelines

When the days can easily be one surprise after another, surety is something we all need. ASHRAE’s new guidelines were made to provide extra assurance that your building is prepared to keep tenants safe as they return to work. Last week, we gave you a glimpse of those guidelines and their impacts on your budget. Now, here are some tips to implement them and help make sure your building meets the standards and is ready to reopen. 

Before Implementing

Planning ahead is key to making the implementation process run smoothly. You’ll want to manage and track any changes you make at a close level. Develop a strategy to monitor those changes and their impacts to prevent running into issues or being blindsided by unexpected expenses. Another way to iron out the details may be through making a timeline or schedule. Staying aware of everyone involved and keeping the process on schedule will be an immense help in securing everyone’s heads upon their shoulders. 

Above all, don’t forget that tenant safety takes priority! Any changes you make or concerns about energy efficiency are secondary to measures such as social distancing that will ensure the safety of others, so take care to factor those matters into your plans.

Take Things Slowly

ASHRAE’s guidelines contain three main points to focus on: increasing outdoor air ventilation, upgrading filtration systems, and exhaust fan operation and building flush. To tackle them, you might want to consider breaking each point down one at a time. Understand the minutiae and environment surrounding the system and work from the outside in.

  1. Increasing Outdoor Air Ventilation
  2. Increasing outdoor air ventilation is an important aspect of lowering the risk of viral transmission as it decreases the amount of recirculated air in your building. Take note of upcoming weather as you begin to work and calibrate zone/return air humidity sensors, installing additional ones if needed. 
  3. It’s especially important to remain aware of the humidity in your region: too little and viral transmission increases; too much and you risk the chance of mold growing! It’s recommended to keep the relative humidity set-point between 40-60% RH in order to maximize tenant comfort as you maximize their safety.
  1. Upgrading Filtration Systems
  2. Similarly, upgrading filtration systems is an important step toward efficiently filtering airborne pathogens. To do this, start by evaluating your current AHU fan capacities and identifying those in need of upgrade. If applicable, consider historical data in your evaluation. Don’t forget to take the time to deep clean and sanitize all coils and surrounding areas.
  3. For the upgrades, ASHRAE recommends replacing existing filters with MERV-13 or greater and adjusting dirty filter alarms. Additional stress will be put on the units, but the filters don’t need to be changed as often (every 4-6 weeks!).
  1. Exhaust Fan Operation and Building Flush
  2. Remember that schedule you made? ASHRAE recommends doing a complete air exchange in the building between every occupancy period, so be sure to set aside time to allow this. Your onsite team will need to figure out how long that takes for your building, but a four-hour slot is also advised for safety. 
  3. Confirm fan failure alarms are functioning properly in order to allow the flush to run smoothly so your tenants will benefit from increased ventilation and less air circulation between floors. You'll also want to ensure all floors maintain equal pressures and are slightly positive to outdoors, and disable air-to-air heat recovery. 

Stay on Top

Monitoring your building and the changes doesn’t stop with the preparation stage. Tracking the impact of implementing ASHRAE's guidelines on the energy expended is important to reforecast your budget. By doing so, you leverage project management for continued success. Staying on top of the changes and their impacts gives you the ability to continue implementing the guidelines, ensuring your tenants remain protected as they return to work. 

With so much out of our control during these times, there is great relief in knowing you are doing the best you can to make your building as safe as possible for occupants. Streamlining the process is an important part of easing our minds, and that’s why we’ve created a free webinar to go in depth into implementing ASHRAE’s guidelines and how they’ll impact you and your building. You may not be able to guarantee the future, but you can prepare yourself to meet the possibilities and help stop the spread of COVID-19 for your building’s occupants.