SFU improves ventilation across campus to reduce COVID-19 transmission

Last year’s ventilation audit prompted heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning improvements

Photo Courtesy of SFU

Written by: Jaymee Salisi, News Writer

As SFU prepares to reopen campus in the fall, Facilities Services is improving the university’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. This is to meet indoor air quality standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Developed with guidance from the Provincial Health Office, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, WorkSafeBC, and ASHRAE, SFU’s new ventilation measures include:

  • Regularly reviewing standard ventilation measures and maintaining HVAC systems
  • Replacing centralized HVAC system filters with the highest filter compatible with the building’s existing infrastructure
  • Reducing pollutants by air flushing in buildings two hours prior to occupancy each day
  • Circulating fresh air whenever possible

“In areas where ventilation could be improved, solutions have included programming changes, minor equipment maintenance, modification of equipment design, and implementation of reduced occupancy while a long-term solution is developed,” associate director, building grounds Dan Cooper said in an interview with The Peak.

According to Mayo Clinic, outdoor air circulation lessens the chances of breathing droplets or aerosols containing COVID-19. SFU aims to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring an adequate supply of fresh air is maintained across the university. 

Indoor spaces where people are in close proximity may increase COVID-19 transmission. 

According to Cooper, proper ventilation “is only effective in conjunction with all other public health measures.” This refers to vaccinations and isolating when feeling unwell. Cooper said SFU aims to update measures according to COVID-19 provincial public health authority guidelines.

The improvements were initiated in May 2020 when SFU Facilities Services began an audit of the air ventilation quality throughout campus to be completed by the end of Summer 2021.

Learn more about the university’s campus ventilation plans on their website.

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