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ASHRAE Indoor Air Quality Guidance for Schools

Schools across the country have struggled to navigate an unprecedented year with the changes sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. With the summer season finally upon us, schools can use this time to reevaluate the state of their current HVAC plan to achieve better indoor air quality for students and faculty in the fall. 

Burdened with the tasks of maintaining a comfortable building temperature while also delivering the cleanest air possible to occupants, HVAC systems responsible for heating and cooling large buildings have much to endure between the ongoing pandemic and the task of regulating the flow of air within a school.

Luckily, organizations like The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) offer schools and institutions like them the indoor air quality guidance they need to maintain healthier, more comfortable buildings for students and other occupants. 

The Importance of Indoor Air Quality in the Era of COVID-19

Now more than ever, indoor air quality is essential to the health and well-being of building occupants. In environments that have traditionally operated on the basis of close-proximity interaction, as in schools, the quality of air within a large building can have dramatic effects on the occupants of the building. With children at risk, the demand for better IAQ solutions remains ever present. 

Strategies for Improving IAQ in Buildings and Schools

There are a number of steps schools can take in order to improve the indoor air quality within their building. Through the processes of mechanical ventilation, increased outdoor air flow, and the removal of airborne contaminants, schools and their HVAC systems can ensure the delivery of safe air to students and staff during a time when breathability and virus prevention are essential. 

  1. Outdoor Air: Increase the level of outdoor air throughout the building via air channels such as vents and other ductwork. Achieve this also by opening windows, where and when possible, to allow for the flow of outdoor air.
  2. Air Flushing: “Flush out” the air to reach the desired IAQ level by running the HVAC system strategically through the planning of operation-times to coincide with peak levels of building occupancy.
  3. Auxiliary Cooling Equipment: Consider using a combination of portable A/C units and/or fans to more effectively circulate air throughout the school building.  
  4. Filter Upgrades: Replacing air filters with the recommended grade for the given space is one of the most effective ways to improve the indoor air quality of a building, as well as the overall performance of the HVAC system. A strong enough filter will ensure a school’s HVAC system is equipped to handle the task of removing the harmful airborne particles responsible for the spread of COVID-19 and other infections. 

Donnelly’s Commitment to Helping Schools Protect Students and Faculty 

At Donnelly Mechanical, we understand the challenges schools have faced over the past year, and we’re committed to providing institutions and their buildings with the turn-key solutions they need to stay safe and comfortable in the fall. Contact us today to learn more about the commercial HVAC services and IAQ solutions that can best benefit your school or building. 


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