Upgrades to HVAC systems across campus a ‘work in progress,’ officials say

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Burnotes said officials are working to install additional MERV-13 or HEPA filters in classrooms and residential lounges.

Scott Burnotes, the vice president for safety and facilities, said the University’s efforts to improve its heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are a “work in progress” after a statement in June failed to provide adequate context and detail regarding system upgrades.

Officials have spent the past year upgrading HVAC systems across at least 16 University buildings, announcing in June that they completed renovations “where necessary” in compliance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Burnotes said in an email Saturday that the HVAC systems are on a “proper maintenance schedule” and continue to be augmented with additional filtration capabilities.

Officials said in the June announcement that campus facilities were safe and ready to be occupied by members of the University community, with completed upgrades intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus. In Satuday’s email to GW community members, Burnotes apologized for “any confusion” about the renovations, pledging for more transparency in the future.

“I understand that there have been questions about these statements,” Burnotes said in the email. “We did not intend for this to be interpreted that the work is complete.”

The University completed two rounds of HVAC upgrades during the last academic year – one last fall and one this spring – in hopes of meeting CDC and ASHRAE recommendations.

Burnotes said officials are working to install additional MERV-13 or HEPA filters, which can block contaminants, in classrooms and residential lounges.

“Air handling varies in each building; for example, buildings with older HVAC technology do not have centrally managed or automated controls which can limit air handling capabilities as the environment changes,” Burnotes said in the email.

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