A sanitization and disinfection program has been implemented on campus. All spaces are included, with high-touch surfaces, toilet rooms, locker rooms, fitness rooms, classroom and lecture spaces and computer facilities being treated multiple times daily.
The S.C. Williams Library will be cleaned four times per day, with the last cleaning to include an atomizer used after closing to disinfect hard-to-reach spaces.
A large number of water bottle filling stations are located throughout campus. All water fountain features are turned off, allowing only water bottle filling.
Physical barriers such as acrylic dividers have been installed in reception and transaction areas where frequent contact with members of the community and visitors can be expected, such as Student Accounts, cash registers and library service desks. Movable acrylic dividers have been placed in classrooms for physical barriers for the professors.
L-shaped dividers have also been deployed at office workstations where social distancing and/or de-densification cannot be accommodated.
In addition, we are installing touchless devices (faucets, flush valves and paper towel dispensers) in common areas and public restrooms as configurations permit.
HVAC Systems Upgrade Overview
A comprehensive plan for studying campus ventilation and reviewing for COVID-19 modifications has been prepared and is being implemented. This plan is based on recommendations of the CDC and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), a worldwide organization that sets HVAC design and construction standards.
The plan was reviewed by subject matter experts at Hackensack Meridian Health and is in line with the recommendations as well as the plan for that medical center.
These recommendations include:
- Maximizing outdoor air ventilation (which, together with reducing the density of people in each campus building, effectively increases the ventilation per person)
- Improving central air filtration to MERV-13, or the highest compatible with the filter rack in the air handling unit
- Running ventilations systems for longer hours
- The use of UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation)
- The use of portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters
- Increasing the intake of outside air as much as possible by opening doors and windows
All Stevens central HVAC systems have recently been reviewed. Based on this review to improve air flow and filtering, one of three options is being considered for implementation:
- Upgrade filters in air handling units to MERV-13 if possible;
- If upgrades to MERV-13 filers are not possible, engineer and install UVGI lighting disinfection if possible;
- If neither MERV-13 filters nor UVGI disinfection can be accommodated, install portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters, if feasible.
In addition, the following operational tasks are being performed:
- Existing air handling units are being reviewed to confirm they are operating at proper outdoor air flow rates. Units that can accommodate additional outside air will be adjusted accordingly.
- Systems will be run for longer periods of time, including at night, to increase dilution during off-hours.
- Cleaning and disinfecting of HVAC unit heating and cooling coils has been performed.
- More frequent air filter changes are being made.
- Doors and windows will be opened in all possible locations, and daily testing of CO2 levels will be done in all classrooms.
- Residence halls are either served by 100% outside air units or have window air conditioning units and receive their outside air through operable windows. These units have been serviced and the filters cleaned and disinfected.
Providing a healthy classroom environment is a key element of our plan.
Central HVAC systems serving the academic spaces on campus are being upgraded to MERV-13 filters wherever they can be accommodated. Classrooms not being served by central systems will each be fitted with a portable room air cleaner with HEPA filter. The larger lecture rooms (Burchard 118 and Kidde 228) receive both upgrades.
Most spaces in the Burchard Building are served by window air conditioning units and receive their outside air through operable windows, classrooms will be treated as discussed above.
The Gateway Academic Center is designed for 100% outside air, with no further action required.
It is equally important to consider non-academic spaces.
Central HVAC systems serving these spaces are also being upgraded to MERV-13 filters wherever possible, with portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters deployed if feasible.
With a few exceptions, our residence halls are predominantly designed with window air conditioning units and receive outside air through operable windows. Filters in all window AC units have been serviced.
CDC Guidance on HVAC Systems and Reducing the Spread of COVID-19
In addition to mask wearing, social distancing, handwashing, increased cleaning frequency and other measures, the CDC recommends that building managers:
- Increase the percentage of outdoor air where possible, taking into consideration outdoor conditions
- Increase total airflow supply to occupied spaces, if possible
- Disable demand-control ventilation (DCV) controls that reduce air supply based on temperature or occupancy.
- Consider using natural ventilation (i.e., opening windows if possible and safe to do so) to increase outdoor air dilution of indoor air when environmental conditions and building requirements allow.
- Improve central air filtration:
- Increase air filtration to as high as can fit in the filter rack without significantly diminishing design airflow
- Inspect filter housing and racks to ensure appropriate filter fit and check for ways to minimize filter bypass
- Consider running the HVAC system for two hours before and after occupied times, in accordance with industry standards.
- Consider using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to help enhance air cleaning (especially in higher-risk areas).
- Clean and disinfect air handling unit heating and cooling coils.
- Ensure exhaust fans in restroom facilities are functional and operating at full capacity when the building is occupied.
If filter efficiency cannot be upgraded, consider using ultraviolet light within the HVAC system as a technique to inactivate potential airborne virus supplied to occupied spaces, in accordance with industry guidelines.
Questions and Answers Regarding CO2 Levels in Occupied Buildings
Q. What concentration of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is usually found outdoors?
A. Ambient outdoor air levels of CO2 typically range between 300 -500 parts per million (ppm).
Q. Why do we measure CO2 in buildings?
A. Carbon dioxide is often measured in indoor environments to assess approximately how much outdoor air is entering a room in relation to the number of occupants. CO2 measuring is a tool to assess general indoor air quality because levels can be used to evaluate the amount of ventilation and general comfort.
Q. Is there a typical CO2 concentration found in buildings?
A. A range of 500- 1,200 ppm is typically found in occupied spaces with good air exchange.
Q. What concentration of CO2 is considered potentially dangerous to humans?
A. CO2 is not generally found at hazardous levels in indoor environments. The OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit for Carbon Dioxide is 5,000 ppm. Prolonged exposure to CO2 levels above 5,000 ppm can be dangerous to humans.