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In our earlier post on prioritizing tenant protection and trust, we mentioned the importance of having a readiness plan with respect to re-opening. We’d now like to follow this up with more guidance and best practices surrounding building operations, further discuss preparedness plans and next steps, as well as provide you with some resources of expertise along the way.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has stressed in their guidance for building operations under COVID-19 (in conjunction with health authorities) that what is most important is the basic efforts surrounding social distancing, surface cleaning/disinfection, routine hand-washing, and other hygienic strategies. In terms of building operations and best practices, simple things can be done to reaffirm these efforts:

  • Increasing disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and installing sanitizer dispensers
  • Supervising or shutting down food areas like the office pantry and coffee station
  • Closing and replacing water fountains with bottle filling stations or sinks

Moving on to building readiness and preparedness plans, you’ll remember that we said they need to cover the necessary HVAC and building systems improvements, communicate any changes as they are done, in addition to instituting hygienic procedures like the ones mentioned above. When it comes to these new procedures, it’s not enough to just provide the required PPE for example, staff should also be provided with training on its proper use and disposal. Training and communication are very important in this regard and should cover everything from getting staff to stay at home if they are feeling sick, to infection prevention and control measures, or ensuring how critical building functions are maintained in an emergency.

Let’s go over things your plan can and should include:

  • Following all local guidelines and restrictions on building use, occupancy, etc.
  • Making HVAC changes and, where modifications to existing systems are not possible, installing portable filtration and air cleaning devices such as ultraviolet germicidal irradiation
  • Providing automatic hand sanitizer dispensers in common areas and ensuring they are operational
  • Providing antimicrobial doormats at high traffic entrances to the building
  • Instituting additional cleaning procedures for proper disinfection of high-touch areas such as on/off switches, thermostats, refrigerators, sinks, etc.
  • Posting signage in prominent locations that contain educational information to remind staff about proper procedures to ensure protection
  • Always notifying staff, tenants, and visitors about the plan along with any updates

In addition to the advice presented above, we’d also like to make sure that you have some important Government of Ontario information resources. There’s the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and workplace health and safety page as well as the Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace page which offers everything from multilingual tip sheets and printable posters to PPE suppliers and sector-based guidance.

Please contact Alliance Engineering today for more information on best practices for building operations under partial occupancy, HVAC system maintenance, and filtration. We’re also proud to provide building optimization solutions based on effective energy reduction and sustainability programs like LEED® and BOMA BEST®.

Please click here to read Part 3: https://www.allianceengineering.ca/industry/efficient-commercial-building-operation-top-5-ashrae-faqs-explored/