COVID-19 (GEN - 1129.00)

Analysis of different recommendations on operation and maintenance of HVAC systems

GEN - 1129.00. Many authorities and associations are publishing guidance documents on how to operate and maintain HVAC systems considering the COVID-19 pandemic. These guidance documents are updated at irregular intervals. An analysis of a selection of these guidance documents shows inconsistencies between them, but also a common core of recommendations: to increase ventilation rates, extend operating times, and limit recirculation.

Analysis of guidance documents

Almost all guidance documents refer to the ASHRAE and REHVA guidance documents and are irregularly updated and complemented as new research results become available. The evolving understanding of the novel coronavirus warrants caution in issuing authoritative guidelines. This is especially true considering that many of the findings and recommendations that are emerging are conflicting. The proliferation of guidance documents is leading to persistent uncertainty among building owners, facility managers and end users on how to operate and maintain their HVAC systems.

It is crucial to isolate the signal from the noise in this area and emphasise what is known about the role of ventilation in containing the spread of viruses. Indeed, the review of a selection of European guidance documents (GEN 1127.01) shows consensus around three key recommendations:

  • Increase ventilation rate
  • Extend operating time
  • Limit recirculation

These three key recommendations constitute the best available guidance which can be issued with confidence. Complementing these guidelines with less well supported claims may do more harm than good.

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Publication Date: 
Friday, 26 June 2020
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