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Building Owners Enable Safe Re-entry for their Tenants

Building owners across the country in the commercial office market have adopted a checklist of healthy building practices to ensure a safe environment for employees in the context of COVID-19.


Since the beginning of COVID-19, we’ve been working with our customers to determine the safest course of action to help slow the spread and ensure safe re-entry for their tenants. Along with strict adherence to social distancing and increased cleaning and sanitization of surfaces, many of our customers are also following HVAC operation guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to ensure they are providing safe and healthy workplaces.


As HVAC systems do play a part in our indoor environment and can support movement of aerosols through a building, what can be done to minimize the effects of this transmission path? The CDC checklist below outlines some general suggestions (which may or may not be the right solution for your building):

  • Increase the percentage of outdoor air to the maximum allowed by existing systems.
  • Increase total airflow supply to occupied spaces, if possible.
  • Disable demand-control ventilation (DCV) controls that reduce air supply based on carbon dioxide concentration.
  • Consider using natural ventilation (i.e., opening windows if possible and safe to do so) to increase outdoor air flow when environmental conditions and building requirements allow.
  • Increase air filtration to as high as possible that existing equipment will allow.
  • Upgrade air filtration from standard office filters to MERV rated filters.
  • Relax building schedules and optimal start/stop schemes to ensure air filtration and outside air are introduced long before and long after building is occupied.
  • Consider using portable HEPA fan/filtration systems to help enhance air cleaning—especially in higher-risk areas.
  • Verify operation and commissioning of both outside air and exhaust air systems i.e. fans, dampers, and actuators.
  • Consider using additional HVAC enhancements, including UV light and bi-polar ionization.


Taking Building Health to the Next Level

If you have checked every box of the above recommendations and want to do more to make the occupants of your building feel safe and comfortable coming to work, consider utilizing real-time information from your building automation system (BAS), which can track many useful and reassuring data points including:

  • The number of times per hour the air in your building turns over.
  • How many times per hour the air in your building passes through upgraded filtration.
  • The amount of fresh air per person in your building.
  • The humidity level of your building, as increased humidity can help reduce the risk of COVID-19.

Don’t forget that communication with your tenants is key to providing them peace of mind. Consider a messaging campaign to mention the CDC recommendations and what you are doing to address each item. Your BAS information can be also be packaged into an interactive dashboard to be displayed on your property’s website or on public-facing screens in your lobby.

Check out McKenney’s buildingHEALTH dashboard for more information:

Building health and safety is assured to become a new standard by which properties are judged and chosen by potential tenants and investors. McKenney’s is here to help you communicate your healthy building initiatives to your occupants, tenants and financial stakeholders.


Have a question for our experts? Leave your comment below and check out our website for more information.


About Charles Tinsley

Website: http://www.mckenneys.com
Email Address: charles.tinsley@mckenneys.com
Charles Tinsley
Charles Tinsley is responsible for project development on construction and special project opportunities for Atlanta’s Automation and Control Solutions Department. Charles is responsible for value creation in building automation covering different market sectors including development projects, real estate enhancement projects and tenant improvements. Charles has worked in the automation and controls industry for five years, prior to which he served as an Infantry Officer in the US Army.
Tags: Automation & Control Solutions

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