EMA Member Scott Wolf, CxA, Enviros published “Keeping Hospital Air Healthy” in Medical Construction & Design magazine.

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Top considerations for sustaining, responding to changing ventilation rates

The use of outside air in building ventilation has long been governed by ANSI/ASHRAE guidelines. At the onset of COVID-19, the minimum guidelines were set-aside, as facilities began to increase system ventilation rates to minimize the potential transmission of pathogens. ASHRAE published guidelines for facility operators, which included increasing outdoor air ventilation, disabling demand-controlled ventilation, opening outside air dampers to minimize recirculation, improving air filtration to MERV-13 filters and extending the run time of systems.

With revisions to CDC guidance on COVID-19 underway, healthcare facility operators may be considering transitioning back to pre-COVID ventilation rates. This period of transition provides the opportunity to ensure facility systems controlling the airflow and ventilation are fully functional with preventive maintenance measures in place to sustain proper air flows. This is of particular importance for highly sensitive spaces with stringent environmental or pressurization needs, such as sterile processing spaces, compounding rooms, operating rooms, isolation rooms and other critical areas.

Having commissioned new and existing healthcare facilities, Enviros sees firsthand the conditions of ventilation equipment and associated controls. Common findings include airflow measuring stations out of calibration, outside air intake screens clogged with debris and damper actuators that are dysfunctional or even out of service. It is not uncommon to find controls that are incomplete or out of calibration, even in newly constructed facilities.

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This article is based on a past webinar presented by Scott Wolf, Rick Bennett, and Shadi Sherafat with EMA. To view the on-demand video, click here.

The Energy Management Association (EMA) administers its ANAB-accredited, DOE’s Better Buildings® recognized Energy Management Professional (EMP) certification and provides an array of training and education programs to support the energy management profession. Visit www.energymgmt.org.