Facilities team maintains campus ventilation systems at highest level
April 22, 2021
Dear Fresno State Faculty and Staff,
Last week I shared with you details in regards to the measures taking place to maintain a clean and safe campus environment as we plan for Fall 2021 repopulation.
As I mentioned to you during the President’s Forum earlier this week, I would like to share some additional safety information, specifically about our ventilation systems.
The CSU Mechanical Review Board has assessed guidance from the CDC and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and has developed a list of recommendations, which our campus has implemented. While experts indicate it is unlikely that the virus can be transmitted through mechanical systems, airflow patterns and velocity in a room can aid virus spread.
The guidance takes a multi-pronged approach that includes using several strategies that safeguard reducing the spread. This guidance adopts the principles of indoor air quality of filtration, dilution, humidification and sanitation. Humidity is intentionally kept in the 40% to 60% range, because research suggests that viruses do not live and grow well within this range of humidity.
Our Fresno State Facilities Management team (building engineers) has assessed every heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) building system and air handler unit on campus. We have upgraded approximately 2,600 air filters to ones with the higher efficiency rating on the market. These MERV 13 filters are changed every 6 months.
We have also optimized building controls to operate the HVAC system to maximize outside air intake. These operations include purging the building to introduce fresh air, and filtering and flushing for at least two hours in the early morning hours before the building is occupied. Faculty and staff may open operable windows to provide fresh air. However, the CDC cautions against open opening windows if outside air quality is poor.
In the evenings, after each classroom is cleaned and disinfected, the custodian teams are equipped with portable air scrubber units with HEPA filters that are run for 30 minutes to further filter and sanitize the air in the room. Supplemental measures are also being considered, such as adding HEPA air filtration units in open administrative areas or locker rooms.
These diligent efforts by our Facilities team are another way to keep us all healthy and safe when we work on campus.
Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Ph.D.