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  1. Create a Clean Indoor Air Action Plan
    • Determine how clean outdoor air is brought into the building and distributed to all occupied spaces. Understand and document how HVAC systems work for your building.
    • Work with an HVAC expert to assess and inspect systems for ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning. Verify through commissioning, testing, and balancing that building systems are functioning as designed.
    • Implement other IAQ assessment approaches such as carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors as needed.
    • Determine how much clean air (outdoor air + filtered HVAC recirculation air) is needed and verify or measure air delivery for each room or space.
    • Assess if you need to manage the direction of air flows in higher risk areas of your building (e.g., in a school nurse’s office).
    • Create an IAQ action plan that includes regular inspections and maintenance, including filter replacements, and
    • HVAC system upgrades or improvements, as needed.
    • Support the people who operate or help with building and air distribution systems by providing continuing education and training.

  2. Optimize Fresh Air Ventilation
    • Ensure outdoor air is acceptably clean or is adequately filtered as it is brought into the building.
    • Properly use economizers, which are devices that supplement mechanical cooling with fresh air, to efficiently and cost effectively increase fresh air ventilation.
    • Run HVAC systems during all occupied hours to ensure clean air enters and is distributed throughout the building.
    • Ensure that exhaust fans in bathrooms are functioning, and set fans to run during occupied hours.
    • Increase volume of clean, outdoor air at times of higher risk (e.g., at times of elevated risk of COVID-19):
    • Adjust HVAC settings while considering thermal comfort, humidity, outdoor air quality, and energy use.
    • Consider running the HVAC system to refresh air before arrival and/or remove remaining particles at the end of the day (e.g., 1-2 hours before/after the building is occupied), as needed.
    • Check with an HVAC expert to understand the maximum outdoor air your system can support.
    • Open operable windows, as weather, outdoor air quality, occupant safety, and HVAC systems permit. To the extent possible, enable cross ventilation by opening windows and doors at opposite sides of the room or building. (Note: Opening windows while running HVAC systems may increase energy costs or introduce other air contaminants.)

  3. Enhance Air Filtration and Cleaning
    • Install properly sized MERV-13 air filters or the highest rated MERV filters that the HVAC system can accommodate.
    • Close off any gaps around air filters to minimize air moving around them instead of through them.
    • Use portable air cleaners to increase air cleaning rates in areas where air flow and central filtration are insufficient:
    • Select devices that are appropriately sized for the space in which they will be used. Consider ENERGY STAR certified products. If noise is a consideration, look for a product with lowest perceived sound levels.
    • As a temporary measure, do-it-yourself air cleaners can also be built from HVAC filters and box fans.
    • Increase ventilation and/or filtration in areas with higher emission of airborne particles and aerosols (e.g., gyms, cafeterias, or choir/music rooms at schools). You can make adjustments for these areas by:
      • Increasing the volume of clean, outdoor air delivery.
      • Using portable air cleaners.
      • Setting up extra exhaust ventilation to move air directly to the outside.
      • Consider an upper-room Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) system to clean the air. (UVGI systems require professional design and installation, in consultation with experts.)

  4. Engage the Building Community should have a link to EPA’s community communication guide
    • Communicate to affected people (e.g., building occupants, workers, students, teachers, and parents) about how the action steps you are taking will improve indoor air quality and reduce disease transmission in your building.

  5. Tell us any other actions you have or will be taking to meet the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge!

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