Shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic started, Genesis started researching how to minimize the spread of Covid-19 within our facility. In May 2020, we formed the Genesis Covid Response Committee to implement necessary operational procedures and specify any changes needed to minimize the spread of the corona virus through our facility. To do this we became conversant with best practices for facility cleaning and environmental and air quality management using a wealth of available web information on indoor air quality (IAQ) and airborne virus transmission.
In particular, we were guided by recommendations from recognized authorities including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Harvard Healthy Buildings Program. The Harvard information was particularly important because its focus was on establishing levels for IAQ needed for establishing healthy classroom ventilation.
To minimize the risk of Covid transmission, we realized our facility needed to improve the purity of air circulating throughout our facility. To accomplish this, we had to improve the filtration of the circulating air; we had to ensure that our HVAC system was drawing in at least 20% fresh make-up air; and we needed to provide at least 5 Air Changes per Hour (ACH) throughout occupied areas in the Genesis facility.
Thus, we directed our HVAC contractor, Robertson-Morrison (R&M), to modify the Genesis Facility HVAC systems to increase filtration of the circulating air by installing MERV 13 filters in all furnaces and rooftop air handlers. On each pass through the MERV 13 filters, at least 50% of 0.3-1.0 µm particles and at least 85% of 1-3µm particles would be removed from the air. In addition, R&M was directed to increase fan speed where needed so that each room would have at least 6 Air Changes/Hour. Finally, R&M was directed to increase the intake of makeup air and to adjust humidity to further help minimize the spread of airborne virus. Since we started, we have upgraded the indoor air quality in the Sanctuary and adjacent lounge areas, the lower level classrooms, the offices, the social hall, and the classrooms used by the Ann Arbor Children’s House.