Campus Building HVAC Systems and Sanitation Program

Monday, April 5, 2021, 4:00am

TO: Campus Community
FR: J. Dana Twedell, AVP Facilities Operations and Planning

As part of our campus discussions around the repopulation plan for fall 2021, questions have emerged from our faculty, staff, and student forums about the air quality and sanitation in our buildings. This memo helps address some of those questions and hopefully provides assurance that our Facilities Operations and Planning unit is well-prepared to meet our two primary goals: to promote health and safety and to ensure academic success for our students through repopulation. 

Our Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)  systems are designed to support a health building model by flushing the systems regularly with fresh outside air and cycling the air through rooms 6 to 8 times per hour.  In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we have doubled the fresh air intake.  In addition, the system utilizes filters that are one step greater than the CDC recommended standard– we use MERV-14 filters (MERV - Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) (see graph below). This ensures the filtering of bacteria and virus carriers.

Graphic illustration showing SSU's ventilation rating of 14 (filtering dust, pollen, mold, smoke, smog, aerosol particles, viruses, and bacteria)

One of the questions emerging related to our HVAC system is about personal fans and heaters. Due to the pandemic, personal fans and/or forced air heaters will not be permissible in fall 2021.  While these items may appear to increase air movement in a space, any introduction of air turbulence that disrupts the original airflow design may actually aid in the spread of COVID-19. Eliminating these items will help maintain optimum airflow throughout the building’s ventilation system. Additionally, all electric bathroom hand dryers have disconnected for the same reasons. 

Our custodial team has implemented a sanitation plan that includes new equipment such as foggers and sprayers, as well as botanical disinfectants. These sanitation materials are being used across campus in classrooms, public spaces, and restrooms. We have added an EPA-approved antimicrobial agent that is highly effective against viruses/bacteria for 30-days after application. 

Every member of the campus community plays a role in our safety measures. Employing multiple layers of defense improves our overall success, with the most effective safety measure being personal responsibility.

Graphic Illustration of 'The Swiss Cheese Respiratory Virus Defense" featuring a figure next to many slices of swiss cheese and particles passing through their holes

Remain diligent in wearing a facial mask, physical distancing, washing hands, and using sanitizer, will always be our best first defense to protect ourselves and others. Additional information regarding the cleaning schedule for fall will be provided in the Campus Repopulation Plan that will be posted on the SSU Covid website in the next several weeks. Safety data sheets on any products used on campus can be requested from facilities. Should you have any questions or comments, please contact me at