Canadian Consulting Engineer

ASHRAE addresses COVID-19 in buildings

February 28, 2020


Image courtesy ASHRAE.

To help address coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) concerns with respect to the operation and maintenance of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, ASHRAE has launched a new ‘preparedness resources’ webpage for building industry professionals.

“The recent escalation in the spread of COVID-19 is alarming on a global scale,” says ASHRAE president Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng. “We know healthy buildings are a part of the solution. ASHRAE’s preparedness resources are available as guidance to building engineers, operators and owners on how to best protect occupants from exposure to the virus—in particular, in relation to airborne particles that might be circulated by HVAC systems.”

The page includes ASHRAE’s recently approved position document on airborne infectious diseases. The society recommends all types of facilities should follow the latest practical standards and guidelines as a minimum, including those relating to ventilation for acceptable indoor air quality (IAQ), air-cleaning device efficiency, thermal environmental conditions and ultraviolet (UV) germicidal irradiation (UVGI).

Additionally, ASHRAE recommends health-care intake and waiting areas, crowded shelters and similar facilities go beyond the minimum requirements, using the techniques offered in its IAQ guide to better prepare to control airborne infectious diseases, including future pandemics caused by new agents.


The design and operation of HVAC systems that move air can affect the transmission of small airborne particles in several ways. To address diseases transmission, ASHRAE recommends dilution ventilation, laminar and other in-room flow regimes, differential room pressurization, personalized ventilation, source capture ventilation, central or unitary filtration and upper-room, in-room and in-airstream UVGI. Engineers are also encouraged to collaborate with infection prevention specialists for the purpose of prevention and risk mitigation.


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