OSU’s COVID-19 Safety & Success plan encompasses the extraordinary measures that Oregon State is taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19. An important part of keeping the OSU community healthy is taking measures to prevent the spreading of the virus through the air.

Physical distancing, face coverings and enhanced cleaning measures are important parts of reducing the spread of COVID-19. As current research shows, the virus can be present in uncirculated air for hours, so OSU has taken steps to address this concern by reviewing and adjusting building ventilation systems on campus.

Many OSU building HVAC systems can be modified to allow for more fresh air and to dilute stagnant air and airborne viruses. To that end, Facilities Services is modifying campus HVAC operations following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers. 

In essence, CDC and ASHRAE recommend the introduction of as much outside (fresh) air as reasonably possible. Laboratory buildings are designed to use air once and ventilate it to the outside. Office and classroom buildings, by design, recirculate a portion of the air to help conserve energy under normal circumstances, which is a good balance of air quality and energy efficiency. Under current conditions, this is no longer the desired strategy.

Consequently, and in keeping with CDC and ASHRAE guidance, Facilities Services staff are taking the following steps to maximize ventilation in campus buildings:

  • Evaluated each building’s HVAC system and determined the appropriate strategy for increasing fresh air.
  • Adjusting the airflow in office and classroom buildings to maximize fresh air supply. 
  • Using building mechanical exhaust venting as much as possible.
  • Maximizing ventilation effectiveness by opening windows and doors where practical. 

COVID-19 Safety and Success FAQs Related to HVAC

Will Corvallis campus maintenance staff be changing air filters more often?

Why is restricted airflow in buildings a potential issue?

Are there HEPA – or high-efficiency particulate air – filters in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems of buildings on campus?

Has air flow in Corvallis campus buildings increased?

What type of air filters are used in OSU buildings on the Corvallis campus?