Re-Opening Your Facility
Considering the global COVID-19 pandemic, virtually every nation, every business has been impacted. Whether your business is considered essential or non-essential, there are guidelines you can follow as you move forward towards some sense of a new normal.
The American Institute of Architects recently issued Re-occupancy Assessment Tool V1.0. It is a helpful guide in assessing your facility.
- What parts of your physical environment can remain the same?
- What needs to change?
- What are temporary measures to take during a transition
- What should become the new normal?
Below is a diagram that prioritizes the effectiveness of various levels of control.
Most of what is being communicated to the public are the two extremes on this graph; the top and bottom tiers. Whereas social distancing is considered most effective, emphasis on PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as masks and gloves, are, in comparison to the other measures, the least effective way to manage the spread of a virus. More effective ways include administrative decisions, such as remote workplaces, which we at Alloy have implemented, and another area that has not been widely discussed, Engineering Controls.
One significant impact on controlling virus spreads involves changes to the engineered systems in your facility. This primarily affects your HVAC system. Referencing the AIA document on Re-occupancy, here is a list of HVAC items to evaluate.
- Increase ventilation and air changes
- Create negative air pressure
- Consider a fixed maximum number of occupants per HVAC zone
- Change HVAC air filters prior to re-occupancy
- Clean ducts that have been dormant
- Keep systems running longer hours, if possible 24/7
- Prioritize fresh air intake versus recycled air where possible
- Monitor and maintain relative humidity levels, preferably to RH 40-60%
- Disable demand-controlled ventilation (DCV)
- Consider the use of portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters
Your staff may have the expertise and tools to address these controls in-house. If not, Alloy Architecture can team with you and the appropriate engineers to complete an engineered system evaluation of your facility.
Six-foot distance rules are showing up everywhere. At our local hardware store, the floor is marked with tape every six feet in a line to the cashier. You have probably seen this in other locations. Here is the general thinking. A six-foot radius around a person is essentially a 114 square foot circle. The International Building Code gives square feet per person based upon the type of occupancy of your facility.
For example, an office building calls for 150 square feet per occupant. Meaning, in general, the office density should be such where practicing social distancing is more manageable. If you own a retail shop the code says the area per person is 60 square feet. Implementing measures, such as the six-foot rule is a prudent way to help manage social distancing. Granted, in any facility, people are not static. They walk around. Meet. Collaborate in person. We are social beings and long-term isolation is not healthy on the human psyche. In areas such as break rooms, conference rooms, and other places where people assemble, implementing social distancing can prove effective.
Your facility is important to your business. Despite implementing new work protocols, you still need a facility that is safe and effective. Depending on your type of business, you may discover varying levels of modifications necessary.
We are here to help. If you need assistance in applying the AIA Re-occupancy Assessment Tool or realize you need to make some wholesale changes, contact us at Alloy Architecture. We will be happy to guide you through your facility’s new normal.
Reach out to us.
David Riffel firstname.lastname@example.org