Monthly Archives

March 2021

Ventilation in Buildings

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CDC recommends a layered strategy to reduce exposures to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This includes using multiple mitigation strategies with several layers of safeguards to reduce the spread of disease and lower the risk of exposure. While it may not be necessary to apply every consideration to be protective, implementing multiple mitigation strategies is recommended, if possible, to improve effectiveness. In addition to ventilation, the layered approach includes efforts to improve social distancingwearing face masks, and hand hygiene.

SARS-CoV-2 viral particles spread between people more readily indoors than outdoors. When outdoors, the concentration of viral particles rapidly reduces with the wind, even a very light wind.  When indoors, ventilation mitigation strategies help to offset the absence of natural wind and reduce the concentration of viral particles in the indoor air. The lower the concentration, the less likely some of those viral particles can be inhaled into your lungs; contact your eyes, nose, and mouth; or fall out of the air to accumulate on surfaces. Protective ventilation practices and interventions can reduce the airborne concentration, which reduces the overall viral dose to occupants.

Below is a list of ventilation interventions that can help reduce the concentration of virus particles in the air, such as SARS-CoV-2. They represent a list of “tools in the mitigation toolbox,” each of which can be effective on their own.  Implementing multiple tools at the same time is consistent with CDC mitigation strategies and increases overall effectiveness. These ventilation interventions can reduce the risk of exposure to the virus and reduce the spread of disease, but they will not eliminate risk completely.

While the list of tools is intended to be universally applicable across indoor environments, applying them to different building types, occupancies, and activities under environmental and seasonal changes can be challenging. The specific combination of tools chosen for use at any point in time can change. It will be up to the building owner/operator (obtaining expert consultation as needed) to identify which tools are appropriate for each building throughout the year. CDC also has information on Ventilation in Schools and Child Care Facilities.

Considerations to Improve Ventilation

Consider ventilation system upgrades or improvements and other steps to increase the delivery of clean air and dilute potential contaminants. Obtain consultation from experienced Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) professionals when considering changes to HVAC systems and equipment.  Some of the recommendations below are based on  Guidance for Building Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemicpdf iconexternal icon from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). In addition to buildings, ventilation considerations are also important when you have multiple persons within vehicles, including public transportation (buses, subways, trains, school buses, carpools, and rideshares). Not all considerations are applicable for all scenarios.

Ventilation improvements may include some or all of the following considerations:

  • Increase outdoor air ventilation, using caution in highly polluted areas.
  • When weather conditions allow, increase fresh outdoor air by opening windows and doors. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk (e.g., risk of falling, triggering asthma symptoms) to occupants in the building.
  • Use fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows. To safely achieve this, fan placement is important and will vary based on room configuration. Avoid placing fans in a way that could potentially cause contaminated air to flow directly from one person over another. One helpful strategy is to use a window fan, placed safely and securely in a window, to exhaust room air to the outdoors. This will help draw fresh air into room via other open windows and doors without generating strong room air currents.
  • Decrease occupancy in areas where outdoor ventilation cannot be increased.
  • Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality for the current occupancy level for each space.
  • Increase airflow to occupied spaces when possible.
  • Turn off any demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) controls that reduce air supply based on occupancy or temperature during occupied hours. In homes and buildings where the HVAC fan operation can be controlled at the thermostat, set the fan to the “on” position instead of “auto,” which will operate the fan continuously, even when heating or air-conditioning is not required.
  • Open outdoor air dampers beyond minimum settings to reduce or eliminate HVAC air recirculation. In mild weather, this will not affect thermal comfort or humidity. However, this may be difficult to do in cold, hot, or humid weather.
  • Improve central air filtration:
    • Increase air filtration external icon to as high as possible without significantly reducing design airflow.
    • Inspect filter housing and racks to ensure appropriate filter fit and check for ways to minimize filter bypass.
    • Check filters to ensure they are within their service life and appropriately installed.
  • Ensure restroom exhaust fans are functional and operating at full capacity when the building is occupied.
  • Inspect and maintain local exhaust ventilation in areas such as kitchens, cooking areas, etc. Operate these systems any time these spaces are occupied. Consider operating these systems, even when the specific space is not occupied, to increase overall ventilation within the occupied building.
  • Consider portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to help enhance air cleaning (especially in higher risk areas such as a nurse’s office or areas frequently inhabited by persons with higher likelihood of COVID-19 and/or increased risk of getting COVID-19).
  • Generate clean-to-less-clean air movement by re-evaluating the positioning of supply and exhaust air diffusers and/or dampers (especially in higher risk areas).
  • Consider using ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) as a supplement to help inactivate SARS-CoV-2, especially if options for increasing room ventilation are limited. Upper-room UVGI systems icon can be used to provide air cleaning within occupied spaces, and in-duct UVGI systems can help enhance air cleaning inside central ventilation systems.

In non-residential settings, consider running the HVAC system at maximum outside airflow for 2 hours

 

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/ventilation.html

Going Touchless – Stop the Spread

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Replacing aging fixtures with newer touchless devices has always been a great way to save our resources, increase hygiene levels and reduce water costs. With the pandemic and the emphasis on reducing the spread. Touchless devices became top of mind as an added layer to help protect our workers and family from the potential spread. We have upgraded many facilities this year and as you would believe demand on manufactures has been very high. When one of our clients recently requested their facility be upgraded to touchless, lead times for quality systems were also at high levels. We are thankful to have such great relationships with our suppliers that they will do whatever is needed to help us serve our clients with the utmost speed. Because of this our team was able to obtain the equipment quicker than expected and installed it sooner than anticipated. Bryon, one of our Plumbing Service technicians worked with our supplier to make it all happen at great speed. Our team installed several hands-free lavatory faucets, bottle fillers, pressure-assisted toilets, and flush valves to help our client provide their staff with an added layer of safety they desired.

Preventing the spread to just one person makes all the efforts everyone puts in worth it. As we move into the future, these types of products need to stay top of mind. Not only do touchless materials and equipment help stop the spread of germs but it also conserves large amounts of water. Most faucets in larger facilities can save hundreds of gallons of water over the course of a couple of years. If your facility is interested in “going touchless” reach out to our team for all the help you might need.

Stay safe.

Meet Lisa Lute

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I am a Contract Administrator here at MSD. My role is creating billings for Construction, Controls, Special Projects, and Electrical. I process contracts, work with our insurance agent to provide insurance for customers and general contractors. I also communicate with general contractors on billing and construction required paperwork as well as vendor waivers required on our construction projects. I collect and log tax-exempt certificates for the above departments. I complete the company registrations and work with Accounting personnel to aid in collections.

I have been at MSD for 20 years. I work mostly with Project Managers, Sales, and Department Managers. My favorite thing about MSD has always been the people that I work with. I enjoy watching the projects we complete and all that is involved in this process. Some of my best memories were touring job sites in Dayton that we were working on and seeing what our field people do daily, as well as seeing some of the big equipment that we installed.

Some of my hobbies include a game night with my family, volunteering, spending time with my friends, walking, and watching movies. My family is my husband Jeff and my two daughters: Amber and Cassy. I also have two grandchildren Jack and Alice. I spend a great deal of time with my grandchildren, and it is amazing to see them grow and learn. Not being able to get out much they have been our entertainment and kept us laughing through this last year.

If I could live anywhere, where would it be? On a beach! I love listening to the ocean and relaxing, walking on the beach at night, and looking at the shells.

What was your favorite family vacation? We took our girls to Tennessee several times, and we always loved hiking and exploring the Tennessee mountains. We have so many good memories of our time spent there.

What makes you laugh most? Jack and Alice. They are 8 years and 22 months. Jack recently explained to me that he and his Mom were doing an experiment with avocado pits. He could not remember their name, so he just called them guacamole eggs!

If you could do anything for a day, what would it be? At this point anything that did not involve staying at home. Probably spend a day at a racetrack, this is my newest hobby.

What motivates you to work hard? Accomplishing a goal. It is very rewarding to see a problem solved or someone’s job made easier by something that I played a part in.

When you were little, what did you want to be? A Banker