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Re-starting and operating your buildings in a COVID-19 world

Updated: May 21, 2020

Advice to our customers, building owners and facility managers

With COVID-19 having forced us into lockdown, many buildings that Optimum Air maintain on behalf of their clients have been idled as opposed to being completely shut down. This was always our strong advice, to follow a process of doing what was necessary to keep statutory maintenance regimes in place along with critical systems and components in operational readiness. 

This process was developed to help our customers manage the immediate impacts associated with COVID-19 resulting in a reduced utilisation of their buildings.  The entire shut down of services in a building only creates more problems at a significantly higher cost and risk than any amount of money saved. Examples of this include:

  • Even with water treatment programs kept in place, without basic operation, many hidden problems in HVAC systems can develop.

  • Failure to maintain water treatment and minimum pump circulation in condenser water and chilled water systems result in the loss of passivation that prevents corrosion of internal pipework

  • Pump circulation ensures biocide levels of condenser water systems are maintained and ensure pockets of legionella will not propagate in idle systems

  • Mould growth in ductwork and dust settling on room surfaces due to lack of air movement

  • Drying out of traps in drains, resulting in direct openings to storm water infrastructure

  • Refrigerant leaks in chillers, rooftop and split air-conditioning systems that can go undetected and lead to significant loss of charge

  • Maintaining movement of actuators, seals and linkages as well as lubrication of moving parts so that they are ready to run

Our customers are well placed to ensure that their buildings are ready for business by working collaboratively with an eye to the future, however it is strongly recommended that an effective start-up plan is put in place prior to reoccupation. Your account manager can arrange this in conjunction with your regular technician.

As buildings are reoccupied, there will be new operational challenges. We have prepared the following advice that explores the ongoing activities of operating a building in a COVID-19 era as well as strategies and technologies that will be relevant for all building owners and operators.

Minimising the risk

The scientific models on the spread and containment of COVID-19 suggest we will be dealing with this problem for at least the next 12 – 18 months, most likely culminating with the release of a widely available vaccine.

It is important for us to acknowledge that there is no such thing as zero risk in repopulating a building, it is all about minimising the risk.

While health officials are still learning more about how the virus spreads and ways to control the outbreak, according to the Australian Government Department of Health, COVID-19 can be spread in three main ways:

The following white paper addresses the role that HVAC systems play in a COVID-19 environment, and addresses the following considerations and opportunities for building owners and facility managers:

  1. Airborne circulation of viruses in HVAC systems

  2. UV-C Lighting Disinfection Systems

  3. Ventilation

  4. IAQ Monitoring and Occupant Information

  5. Air Scrubber Technologies

  6. Advanced People Counting Technologies

You can download the full white paper "Re-starting and operating your buildings in a COVID-19 world" at the following link.


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