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Air Cleaning Update

9-14-20 Air Cleaning Update:

As a reminder, our initial focus related to air cleaning includes the following:

  • Indoor gathering spaces where many students gather at once (e.g. Mensa, some music spaces, etc.)
  • Classrooms, focusing first on the larger classrooms and those that are used more frequently

The following has happened since our last update in late August:

  • The air handler units in The W, Luther Hall, CTC and Neumann Auditorium have been operating in the “occupied mode” 24/7 since the end of August, meaning the fans are running as much as possible
  • The air handler units in Clinton (common spaces), Fine Arts Center, and the Chapel have not been able to be switched to “occupied mode” because of a communication issue with the operating software. Our vendor is working on this issue.
  • The air handler units in the Student Center, Science Center, and Vogel Library use a separate operating software system. That vendor is also working on how to get these units switched to “occupied mode." 
  • There are not separate air handler units that service the individual residence hall rooms, so there is no additional air movement that is available in these spaces.
  • WBC and Old Main use heat pumps; therefore, there are not air handler units that can be placed in “occupied mode.”
  • We have ordered, received, and started to install the bi-polar ionizer units for the larger air handler units. 
    • The anticipated order of installation is as follows:
      • FAC – Band Hall, Orchestra Hall, Choral Hall, and additional areas served by the AHUs.
      • Student Center – Mensa
      • Chapel
      • Science Center
      • CTC Classrooms
      • Library Classrooms
      • Clinton Hall Classroom
      • The W – Fitness area, Classrooms, Aerobics Room, Varsity Locker Rooms, Levick Arena
      • Student Center – McCaskey Lyceum
      • Neumann Auditorium
  • We anticipate having all of these installed by no later than the end of October.
  • We have ordered and received two different types of bi-polar ionizer units that can be used with heat pumps. 
    • We are seeing which brand works best for our situation and will work on an installation schedule.
    • The anticipated order of installation is as follows:
      • WBC – Rooms 117 & 214
      • Luther Hall Classrooms
      • Grossmann / Lohe Classrooms
      • Old Main Classrooms
  • We anticipate having all these installed by no later than the end of October

 

8-23-20 UPDATE:

The College has been exploring various options to "clean" the air in various spaces across campus.  

 

We have spoken to various vendors and professionals that work with different ventilation and air cleaning "systems".  We have different types of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in different buildings across campus, therefore, there is no "one solution" for all the areas we are trying to address.  Some options we have explored include the following:

  •  When possible, increase the number of times the air is exchanged in a space by running the air handling system (if applicable) more frequently, or even continuously
  • Increase the MERV rating (i.e. Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) of the filters to catch more particles.  We use a MERV 8 filter and suggestions are to change to a higher MERV filter (e.g. MERV 13)
  • Use ultraviolet (UV) lights on the coils and in the duct work of air handling units to kill the coronavirus as passes by the UV lights
  • Use bi-polar ion generators in the duct work of air handling units to kill the coronavirus as the air passes by the bi-polar ion generator unit(s)

None of the options are full-proof and certainly no substitution for wearing mask, washing hands frequently, and social distancing.  However, we believe that addressing various ventilation challenges will help to mitigate the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

 

Based on effectiveness and long-term benefits, we have decided to move forward with installing bi-polar ion generators in various locations around campus.  By installing bi-polar ion generators, it is not necessary to install ultraviolet lights nor change to a higher MERV rated filter in those spaces.  In addition, where possible, we will increase the number of times the air is exchanged in a space across all areas of campus.

 

In spaces where a bi-polar ion generator will not be installed, we will determine if it is possible to change to a higher MERV rated filter and if so, we will do so (although there is currently a significant back-log for such filters).  In some instances, we cannot switch to a higher MERV rated filter as the air exchange for some spaces would be significantly reduced because of the capacity of some of our air handling systems. 

 

We will be installing bi-polar ion generators in the following types of spaces:

  • Indoor gathering spaces where many students gather at once (e.g. Mensa, some music spaces, etc.)
  • Classrooms, focusing first on the larger classrooms and classrooms that are used more frequently

We are working with an outside company to help determine the proper equipment to order and then it will be installed.  We will provide an update in early September as to the status of this project.  

 

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