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HVAC and Air Quality Assessment Pilot Project (In Progress)

Project History

  • 6/15/2022

    On 6/15/2022, Morgan White, Sterling Laylock, Ali Khan, Maria Thompson, and Alec McKay met to discuss revisions to the quote for the HVAC and Air Quality Assessment tests, and to confirm a date to start testing, which is July 22, 2022.

  • 4/16/2022

    Ali Khan and Dhruv Gambhire are now on the F&S payroll as grad hourly employees, in the Sustainability Department.  Their funding is from the Student Sustainability Committee, in support of the SSC-funded project for HVAC and Air Quality Asses

Description

The Covid-19 Pandemic has drawn our attention to the unintended consequences of efficient building ventilation. Buildings have historically lacked the capability of verifying, managing, or communicating real-world ventilation and filtration performance for aerosol removal and infection control in occupied spaces due to limitations in existing building assessment tools.

Existing solutions have caused a majority of safety and facilities professionals to operate blindly with enormous building safety, occupational health, and financial consequences at stake. We are collaborating with a San Francisco based biotech firm, SafeTraces, and our iCap team members from Integrating Green Technologies, a SafeTraces Preferred Partner located in Illinois.

Balancing the nexus between energy efficiency and improved indoor air quality to optimize human life safety, requires some new innovative tools.

Background

In collaboration with SafeTraces and Integrating Green Technologies, we aim to verify ventilation and filtration performance in indoor spaces with real-world data using veriDART®, a patented DNA-Tracer Visualization Technology by Safe Traces. It provides critical information on aerosol mobility inside buildings to accurately assess HVAC performance of infectious aerosol exposure risks in buildings.


veriDART’s proprietary airborne tracers safely mimic the chemical composition, particle size distribution, and mobility of viral emissions to mirror a person coughing and sneezing inside indoor spaces.


We will identify a building on campus which has higher student density and interactions where our team will release DNA-tracers in designated test areas for dispersion throughout the building’s HVAC air duct system. Air and surface samples will be collected at specific, predetermined points within the building during timed intervals. Samples will be collected and PCR-tested in an ISO9001 laboratory.

Based on assessment results, we will use data analytics to visualize exposure risk based on the DNA signal strength in the tracers including heat maps to identify any potential problem areas in the subject building.

Our detailed analysis and reporting will clearly communicate opportunities to mitigate risks by taking the corrective action steps needed to ensure real-world safety while making better informed financial decisions.

This analysis will help us understand how effectively our HVAC and filtration systems handle air that circulates within our buildings on campus. One of our primary overarching goals is designed to cause all stakeholders to recognize the importance of cost-effective, scalable opportunities to provide the highest quality indoor environments.

Specifically, the F&S leadership is involved in this effort and will receive the summary reports and discuss the recommendations made as a result of our HVAC and Air Quality Assessment Pilot Project process.

Our project deliverables will include but not be limited to:

1. Recommendations about relevant changes in the HVAC filtration systems in the specific building.

2. Detailed analysis and reporting which will be published on the iCAP Portal, informing the public about the subsequent changes necessary to optimize indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and human health and safety in our campus infrastructure.

3. We will track data over time that supports the optimization of objective operational financial decisions that can contribute to a change toward “people-centric” methodologies for overall Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ).

This is a paradigm shift in how decisions can be made regarding the design of new structures, renovation of existing structures, and their occupancy, as we continue to contend with the combined impacts of the Covid-19 global pandemic and the unpredictable effects of Climate Change.

Project Team

  • Project Leader:

    Dhruvaraj Gambhire

    Team Members:

    • Ali Feroz Khan
    • Morgan White
    • Sterling Laylock
    • Carl Tutt
    • Michael Sheehan
    • Mike Alsip
    • Alec McKay
    • Maria Thompson

Dates

  • Approved December 11, 2021
    Approved by Student Sustainability Committee

Themes

Project Location(s)

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