Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

The quality of indoor air in campus buildings has always been a priority for the Facilities Management team, and is even more important during the pandemic.

In partnership with Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) and COVID-19 Medical Response Office (CMRO), Facilities Management completed a comprehensive ventilation assessment and verification process of all campus building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, ensuring systems meet the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) IAQ Standards recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cleaning and HVAC on our Campuses

To further improve air quality, HVAC systems are operating 24 hours a day, with automated energy economizer and demand control sequences paused, exceeding ASHRAE guidelines.

Ventilation Assessment Plan

Pitt Facilities Management assembled a team of experts to develop a layered approach to creating a ventilation assessment plan, providing a comprehensive review and evaluation process for building ventilation systems, remediating any issues uncovered, improving systems air quality and flow where needed, and maintaining a record of building readiness.

The ventilation assessment team included controls engineers, HVAC contractors, skilled trades, building engineers, and specialized technicians who evaluated HVAC systems in all  buildings on the Pittsburgh and regional campuses.

The team ensured the proper operation and function of all HVAC systems in accord with ASHRAE guidelines.

Where issues were identified, the team corrected deficiencies to meet ASHRAE guidelines. Mitigating strategies included repairing mechanical equipment, developing and implementing new automated control strategies, adjusting air flow settings, increasing quantities of outside air, and increasing filtration efficiency. The goal was to ensure that systems were operating as designed and, where possible, to enhance indoor air quality.

The assessment plan provided a comprehensive methodology for the inspection, testing, repair, and documentation of the building ventilation systems. This included:

  • Assessing each central system to identify any mechanical, electrical, or control system deficiencies
  • Verifying the minimum acceptable outdoor air and ventilation airflow rates and increase based on outdoor air temperature and each system’s design capabilities
  • Increasing outdoor ventilation and filtration to the  maximum capacity of each system
    • Adjusted ventilation to run 24 hours per day
    • Discontinued the practice of air reduction based on Demand control ventilation
    • Verified MERV 13 filters are maintained where ever possible
    • Reprogrammed systems to provide a maximum level of outdoor air within the engineering limits of the system
  • Confirming and testing the building HVAC system to ensure the required outdoor air and ventilation airflow rates were achieved
  • Implementing repairs necessary to remedy system deficiencies; followed by testing to verify ventilation compliance

Summary of Measures Taken to Date

  • Evaluated HVAC systems, air filters, ducts, and vents for proper ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning, following ASHRAE IAQ Standards and Evaluation Checklist
  • Completed HVAC system maintenance and repairs to address mechanical deficiencies, including air filter replacements
  • Made adjustments to improve air quality based on ASHRAE guidelines, optimizing air flow by using a higher percentage of outside air through mechanical system and window use
  • Installed new HVAC systems, including Posvar Hall and the Cathedral of Learning Commons Room

Continuous Monitoring

All HVAC systems are routinely inspected and maintenance performed as required, including air filter replacements. Additionally, the University’s Building Management System monitors over 800,000 sensors located throughout campus buildings, providing 24/7 monitoring and control of HVAC systems through Facilities Management’s staffed Energy Operations Center. Continuous commissioning/fault detection is used to ensure building systems are operating properly to identify and resolve HVAC system needs.

Contact Us

For more information regarding HVAC protocols or a specific campus building, please contact your building Facility Manager.