ASHRAE releases two statements regarding COVID-19 and HVAC

Written on: April 21, 2020 by ICM

Message from ASHRAE President Darryl Boyce

Like all businesses around the globe, ASHRAE must react to the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Society determines how to respond to the evolving circumstances, our highest priority is the safety and welfare of our volunteers and staff. ASHRAE recently announced the creation of the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force to help deploy ASHRAE’s technical resources to address the challenges of the current pandemic and future epidemics as it relates to the effects of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems on disease transmission in healthcare facilities, the workplace, home, public and recreational environments.
Members will be kept informed as ASHRAE adapts to these rapidly changing circumstances. We hope that you and your families are healthy, safe and secure.

Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng., 2019-20 ASHRAE President

On the recommendation of the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force, ASHRAE leadership has approved the following two statements regarding transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the operation of HVAC systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.
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.

NEW ASHRAE Position Document on Infectious Aerosols
On April 14, 2020, the ASHRAE Board of Directors approved the ASHRAE Position Document on Infectious Aerosols. This position document replaces the ASHRAE Position Document on Airborne Infectious Diseases. This position document outlines ASHRAE’s position that facilities of all types should follow, as a minimum, the latest published standards and guidelines and good engineering practice. Based on risk assessments or owner project requirements, designers of new and existing facilities could go beyond the minimum requirements of these standards, using techniques covered in various ASHRAE publications, including the ASHRAE Handbook volumes, Research Project final reports, papers and articles, and design guides, to be even better prepared to control the dissemination of infectious aerosols.