UM Today | HVAC at UM

July 27, 2021 —

The University of Manitoba’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems meet or exceed ASHRAE building ventilation and filtration standards. These standards are supported by the Government of Canada and are part of the ventilation guidelines established by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to prevent the transmission of COVID.

Properly functioning HVAC systems support common COVID-19 safety protocols (measures such as vaccinations, masking, cleaning) by removing and diluting aerosols that may contain viruses from indoor spaces.

It is important to note that adjusting the ventilation does not affect transmission between people who are close to each other. Practicing the basics of safety – wearing a mask, physical distancing, hand hygiene – is paramount.

To support the expected increase in in-person activities on campus in September 2021, UM has improved ventilation protocols – many of which have been in effect since early 2020 – by reviewing ventilation systems and optimizing their capabilities.

Some additional measures that have been taken are:

  • Filters inspected to ensure they are working properly.
  • All demand ventilation systems are turned off to allow air handling to operate at full capacity, even during periods of low occupancy.
  • Seasonal conditions permitting, mixed air systems are set to 100% fresh air.

With these improvements, the operation of the university’s ventilation systems is in line with COVID-19 requirements and public health recommendations, as outlined by COVID safety recommendations.

Read on for details.

Measures for improved ventilation

These measures will be implemented on campus:

  1. Increasing outside air intake: Campus ventilation systems optimized within system capabilities to maximize the amount of outside air supplied to classrooms and other buildings. Increased outside air supply to building spaces has been identified by: COVID safety recommendations as an important measure that can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 within buildings.
  2. Increasing the air exchange by extending the running times of the fans: Extended operating schedules for on-campus ventilation systems to include times before and after building occupancy times, and in some cases 24/7. This increases the number of daily air changes and ensures that rooms are well ventilated. COVID safety recommendations recommends this practice to increase the amount of air exchanges in building spaces to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  3. Check filters: To ensure that ventilation system filtration works optimally within system designs, filters are checked regularly as part of regularly scheduled preventive maintenance routines. Routine inspections and maintenance can be helpful in reducing the spread of viruses. Most Fort Garry campus buildings have MERV 8 filters, and some renovated buildings have up to MERV 14. All Bannatyne campus buildings have been upgraded to MERV 11 filters, and many buildings have MERV 14 additional filters. In many cases, pre-filters are used to extend the life of the main filter. ASHRAE recommendations are reviewed and followed as closely as possible
  4. Preventive maintenance: All campus ventilation systems are cataloged in our Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and receive regular preventive maintenance, including filter replacement, inspections and repairs as needed. Filters are checked monthly and can last 1-2 months to 6-12 months depending on area and outdoor conditions.
  5. air purifiers: Local air purification systems may be considered in areas without adequate ventilation systems. Some users may use a local HEPA filtration unit in their work area as an extra measure, but these are not considered necessary for many of the campus areas. For the few buildings that have been determined not to be suitable for use by more than 2 or 3 people at the same time, the faculty has been informed.
What you can do
  1. Get vaccinated. Public Health recommends this as a: main COVID-19 control measure.
  2. Follow recommended public health practices. This includes the use of mouth caps, keeping distance, hand hygiene and staying home in case of illness.
  3. Open windows. The use of operable windows in favorable weather conditions is encouraged as an additional way to bring more outside air into classrooms and other buildings.
  4. Avoid fans and window AC units. The use of personal desk fans, low ceiling fans, window air conditioners, and other devices that can create high velocity airflows in open plan offices or other shared spaces are discouraged. If window AC units are to be used, it is recommended to direct the airflow away from the occupants in the room.
  5. Report ventilation problems. Let the Operations and Maintenance team know if there is a ventilation issue affecting your workspace.

For questions about ventilation, please contact the Operations & Maintenance customer service at ppwod [at] humanitarian [dot] That or banwod [at] humanitarian [dot] That

For questions about the environment, health and safety at UM, please contact the Environment, Health and Safety Office of EHSO [at] humanitarian [dot] That

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