Updated: August 27

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and New York State’s Department of Health agree that buildings’ heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can play a role in reducing the risk of exposure to, and the spread of, COVID-19. The most critical adjustments to buildings’ HVAC systems—those most likely to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19—are the following, according to the CDC:

  • Increasing ventilation rates (in other words, the rate of outdoor air flow into a building per period of time)
  • Ensuring ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality for the current occupancy levels
  • Increasing outdoor air ventilation
  • Disabling demand-controlled ventilation (DCV), which adjusts air flow based on room/space occupancy
  • Opening minimum outdoor air dampers (as high as 100%) to reduce or eliminate recirculation
  • Improving central air filtration to the MERV-13, or the highest compatible with the filter rack, and sealing edges of the filter to limit bypass
  • Checking filters to ensure they are within service life and appropriately installed
  • Keeping systems running longer hours, 24/7 if possible, to enhance air exchanges in building spaces

NYU’s Facilities & Construction Management team reviewed and enhanced NYU buildings’ HVAC systems to ensure those systems comply with the CDC recommendations listed above. In addition to the actions recommended by CDC, the University is purging building HVAC systems every day before buildings are occupied.