The Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) on Monday said it had set up a “COVID-19 Task Force” comprising of “Thought Leaders & Experts”, from among its members, to help carve out guidelines as an aid to the humanity, at large and to help fight the pandemic in the buildings and complexes, in particular. For over a month now, the task force mapped thorough studies and rolled out the guidelines for safe use of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems in the residential houses, commercial buildings and hospitals on 13 Apr 20. A copy of these guidelines is available at www.ishrae.in for free download.
These guidelines, in brief, covers aspects related to; all types of buildings, be it residential, commercial or healthcare and targets; from the simple, standalone air-conditioning system to the more complex, centralised and ducted air-conditioning systems and addresses the concerns related with it, viz., filtration system, humidity, ventilation, etc.
The residential application includes maintaining a constant temperature and humidity level between 24°C and 30°C & 40% and 70% respectively. Since it more or less established that COVID-19 virus is unable to survive more than 37°C or more, ISHRAE insists that room temperature and humidity levels should be monitored closely in order to render the virus ineffective.
In commercial buildings, multiple occupancy and transient visitors necessitate precautions, especially in the operation of their air conditioning systems. Hence, it would be prudent for all commercial buildings to limit risk by ventilating the indoor environment with outdoor air as much as possible. The suggestive precaution, as mentioned in the guidelines, is the use of mechanical ventilation systems that improve the quality of the outdoor air through filtration. However, the document also mapped out separate operating guidelines based on the category of indoor unit, which can be read here.
Finally, in the healthcare sector, ISHRAE recommends converting general patient rooms and ICUs into COVID-19 patient areas with specific considerations pertaining to the HVAC systems in use. According to the guideline, the conversion of the rooms would first require changing the room into a non-recirculatory system. Although during an emergency this can be achieved by blanking-off the return air vents in the COVID-19 patient rooms. However, it is important to make sure that the air handling unit has the provision to receive adequate outdoor air supply.
Mr. Richie Mittal, President ISHRAE said, “While the world continues to fight this global pandemic of COVID-19, we, at ISHRAE, have launched a task force along with a set of guidelines that may help reduce the impact of the virus in our homes, offices and hospitals. At ISHRAE, we’re dedicated to the safety and health of all citizens affected or not affected and would like to contribute in this global fight against this global enemy through our contribution as part of the largest body of HVAC&R industry. Which is the primary reason why the guideline also includes a portion for service technicians and the air conditioning systems ‘operation and maintenance.”
The Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE), was founded in 1981 at New Delhi by a group of eminent HVAC&R professionals. ISHRAE today has more than 28,000 HVAC&R professionals and Student-members. ISHRAE operates from 43 Chapters and sub Chapters spread all over India, with HQ in Delhi. It is led by a team of elected officers, who are members of the Society, working on a voluntary basis, and collectively called the Board of Governors.
Moreover, as a socially responsible organisation, ISHRAE has also launched a protocol to cut carbon footprint by organising virtual conferences for all executive meetings. Recently, it successfully organised an online meeting between 50+ members and has committed to share all available information on video conferencing with other societies at email@example.com. Additionally, the society is a responsible body working collectively towards many such causes; like, Green Initiatives, Integrated Building Management Systems, Research, etc. in HVAC&R spectrum.