New measures in place to enhance Brock’s ventilation system for fall

As Brock continues to prepare for a significant return to campus this fall, steps are being taken to enhance the air quality in all University buildings.

With the safety of students, staff and faculty a top priority, Brock has introduced a number of measures related to the ventilation system to help mitigate concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to all building ventilation systems undergoing regular maintenance to ensure air is clean and flowing into and out of buildings properly, overrides have been implemented in various areas and systems, such as air intakes, to maintain increased fresh air volumes to indoor spaces.

High-performance, surgical-grade filters have been installed in areas across campus and are changed on a schedule to exceed performance standards for classrooms and other non-surgical spaces.

The University has also invested in industrial air purifiers for classrooms and teaching labs, said Dave McArthur, Brock’s Director, Facilities and Services.

“We’re going to install air purifiers in all of the spaces that will have increased capacity,” he said, adding multiple air purifiers will be placed in larger spaces, such as David S. Howes Theatre.

Staff continues to monitor air changes — how many times the volume of air is changed in a space in an hour — with the goal of maintaining six per hour, McArthur said. Air audits are also being conducted in all classrooms to ensure standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) are being met or exceeded.

The air in indoor spaces will also be “flushed out” every night and again in the morning prior to people entering for the day, with ventilation starting two hours prior to scheduled occupancy.

While the increased air exchanges will take a toll on the University’s energy efficiency, with systems working longer and harder than ever before, the measures are being put in place to emphasize safety on campus, said Mary Quintana, Director, Asset Management and Utilities.

“Brock is being proactive and taking steps that go above and beyond the most recent regulations to keep our community comfortable and safe,” she said.

McArthur added that the ventilation and HVAC systems are “one piece of the puzzle in keeping everyone safe, along with wearing masks and getting vaccinated.”

As Brock’s plan for a fall return relies heavily on a high COVID-19 vaccination rate, the University has been encouraging all faculty, staff and students to get both doses as soon as they’re able to.

“This is one in a series of initiatives Brock is putting in place to ensure people feel confident that the University is doing everything it can to keep them safe when they return come September,” McArthur said.

The University continues to stay up-to-date on conversations regarding ventilation and air quality, he said, and is “constantly researching information from ASHRAE, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, public health and other universities.”

Brock also exchanges and compares knowledge with peers at other institutions to learn about best practices and any challenges others might be experiencing, Quintana said.

The University is fortunate, she said, as even its oldest buildings still contain strong ventilation systems, which has been a challenge for other institutions with more historic facilities. The two spaces that were not connected to Brock’s HVAC building automation system — Harrison Hall and Kenmore Centre — are being upgraded and controls installed to ensure they can also be monitored properly, she added.