Unprecedented Optimism in Climate Commitments for Higher Education
- Humidity: A range between 40% and 60% relative humidity supports natural human immune system response and reduces viral longevity and viral transmission distance. The benefits of humidity control must be balanced against potential increased energy use and system maintenance on campus.
- Ventilation: There has been significant focus on ventilation to minimize recirculation of air and provide dilution of the coronavirus. The potential benefits of additional ventilation in building across campus must also be weighed against additional energy use. Significant attention has been given to the added benefits of ventilation to maintain lower space carbon dioxide levels and associated cognitive benefits.
- Air treatment: Filtration has been an integral component of HVAC systems, but can be specified with a wide range of performance. Higher levels of filtration can result in additional energy use. Additional technologies, like ultra-violet germicidal irradiation, needlepoint bi-polar ionization, and polarized filtration, have potential benefits, but also require additional testing tailored to COVID-19. These technologies can offer longer-term benefits for overall air quality by treating other common pollutants, while reducing long-term energy use.
- Space conditioning: Delivery of cooling and heating can take many forms, with a range of impacts on thermal comfort and the delivery of ventilation to occupants. Lower energy intensity systems like radiant flooring can support comfort and allow the air systems to deliver 100% outdoor air efficiently.
- Assess and eliminate energy waste by optimizing the sequence of operations of equipment and systems in all facilities.
- Complete a systems audit to establish a baseline for current system performance to understand the ability to adapt.
- Re-prioritize capital improvement projects to build resilience for future disruptions.
- Integrate carbon impact planning into the strategic planning decision-making process to address carbon impact assessment for various scenarios, including:
- Operational scenarios such as hours of occupancy and ventilation rates;
- Space use scenarios such as multipurpose vs. single-use space;
- Educational delivery scenarios such as increased power consumption, and student/faculty commutes.
- Plan for healthy spaces with the ability to visualize and increase the transparency of the quality and cleanliness of the indoor environment.
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