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Survey Raw Responses: Biggest Challenge around HVAC for Spring Semester

The size and complexity of our HVAC systems.  The cost and the timelines associated with retrofits that are guidelines not requirements.
Time and money.
Has not really been a challenge on our campus.  Potentially there may be user concerns in older buildings without built-in ventilation systems when the users are faced with cold outdoor temperatures and wanting to open windows for added ventilation.  There really isn’t anything we can do about that, though.
Still having difficulty finding MERV 13 filters. Long lead times.
Budgets for paying for the work, then communicating it out fast enough to parents and staff to make it worth it.
No planned adjustments. Fine Arts (music, dance, theater) all require extra air cleaning/HEPA filter equipment to minimize risk.
Money (expense) for improvements, and now the uncertainty of the government possibly requiring reimbursement for funds they gave us toward salaries to avoid laid offs. At the time, they claimed it would not have to be repaid or would be an interest free loan. Now we must wait until 1/1/21 to learn if it must be repaid, and if so, at what interest rate.
Installing upgraded filters in older HVAC systems.
Cost and time to execute these kinds of projects. No funding available to upgrade/retrofit old systems.
Obtaining the appropriate filters.  Recommended levels of filtration have been on back-order.
Cost, but we decided to invest in room purification units as the “local” aspect seemed more effective and cost effective. Room purification units are the adjustment for spring.
We are doing minimal HVAC retrofits/upgrades.  We did award a MBCx contract for our E&G buildings which should provide good information on the operations of our HVAC equipment.
Restricted budgets.
Expectations, especially in older buildings with limited or no outside air component.
Possible UV research.
Older buildings and classrooms with radiator style heating systems present a challenge as there is no capability within the system for fresh air intake. We will rely on open windows (as weather allows) and portable air purifiers.
None. Not aware that we are retrofitting.
Winter weather – cold, snow, sleet, ice – and not being able to test with windows open.
We will continue with the fall protocols.
We do not have too many spaces in which we can add humidity to the air in winter so we are not able to achieve optimal COVID humidity range in most of our interior spaces in winter.
Money for UV systems.
Already changed and ready for Spring. Adjustments made: Upgraded filters to the highest possible level based on the equipment RCx of all mechanical equipment Pre-post-purge of OA
Old classrooms with poor ventilation. Utilizing portable HEPA filter units where possible. Upgrading the box/final fixtures to MERV 14. Changing all pre filters on AHU. Repairing and replacing dampers for improved outside air flow.  UV lights in AHU.
For institutions that have not invested heavily in upgrading their systems (especially in older buildings): A lack of documentation and outdated control systems limit our ability to confidently tell the campus community that systems are operating in a manner that does all we can to mitigate the spread of the virus. Every institution now wishes they had invested years ago in continuous commissioning.
Dealing with old systems.
We have not done any retrofits due to COVID-19.
Mask wearing and social distancing by contractors.
We are all set with our HVAC.
Working on ionization in the air handlers and possibly UV.
Most HVAC systems cannot function with MERV 13 filters. Few buildings have the capacity for 100% outside air.
Nothing major being undertaken.
There will likely be some days that we will not be able to bring in as much outside air due to freezing outdoor temperatures.  We are changing filters during winter break and verifying MIRV 13 wherever possible.  We are also adding the cost differential between normal filters and MERV 13s to our FEMA claim in hopes of getting some of the extra cost reimbursed.
No changes.
We have not had to retrofit our HVAC. We have forced air central plant systems in good repair, and we are not planning any adjustments.
We have already altered air changes in the buildings to meet CDC guidelines.  We will have to see how COVID progresses after the new year and how the vaccines will be able to be distributed when they are approved.
No major issues.
No funds to install effective measures like UV systems on air handlers.  Old HVAC systems that are inefficient and poorly designed.
Funding.  No change.
We have verified air changes per hour and have MERV 13 or above filtration.
Community understanding, select portable HEPA deployment.
We will continue Fall measures through the spring: 1. We are changing filters 30% more often. 2. We have increased outside air make-up to 25%-30% campus wide.
Current systems not rated for MERV 13 filters.
Where possible we are increasing air exchange rates.  This is not widely available as an option, so we are having to make do.
Just the communication and calming fears.  We are replacing filters again in this spring as we did in the fall.
No upgrades planned.
Making sure the fresh air is entering the buildings at all times. Recommending everyone on-site to report any ventilation concerns asap.
Older buildings just can’t be retrofitted as needed. Still working on solutions.
We have only changed to MARV 13 where equipment allows and increased outdoor air.  Mostly we’ve had classes scheduled in large spaces and outdoor tents.  From what was reported, no one with in-person socially distanced classrooms, wearing masks, have reported any transmission from an academic environment.  I would like to stop tent use for February.  Too cold and heating a tent with closed flaps seems worse than indoor classes.
No HVAC upgrades are currently planned related to COVID.
HVAC schedules have been adjusted and settings changed to bring in more outdoor air. However, we have not made any upgrades or retrofits.
Converting to MARV 13 is not practical (too much static pressure on the HVAC units), and UV protections are too costly. As temperatures warm up later in spring, we will be able to return to a maximum outside air flow. That is currently restricted to prevent freezing of the coils.
Cost and getting materials on time.
No retrofits or upgrades planned.
We have managed fairly well for the Fall with frequent filter changes and have not seen spread from academic or auxiliary buildings.  We installed a disinfecting system in our residence hall air handlers and are hoping to install them in our larger units serving academic and auxiliary buildings when these units are available from the manufacturer. We have held several educational sessions with faculty and staff about how we are adjusting our maintaining our HVAC systems and that has been helpful with calming fears and concerns. Inadequate fresh air will become more of an issue if we experience a hot and humid spring in the South.
Our buildings are newer and automated so we have been able to change HVAC schedules and upgrade system filters.  Our biggest challenge has been assuring building occupants that all measures are in place and we are meeting or exceeding COVID standards.  Each time news comes out we start over with our explanation and need to rebuild trust.
No adjustments planned.
We have had difficulty getting filters.
Costs. Decreased revenue to do projects.
Once supplies are procured, all systems will be sanitized and filters changed, and units checked to ensure they are running properly.
Understanding real options vs. the latest and greatest sales pitch. Cost to retrofit older systems, especially those that don’t have high outside air capability during winter months.
Making sure we can secure a healthy supply of upgraded filters. We have plenty now but unsure about whether there will be a long lead time when it’s time to reorder.
Funds to retrofit equipment.
Age of equipment being able to accept upgraded filters. Cost and no budget to install UV or sanitizers. The building’s use has changed with upgrades to HVAC, so air pressures are off.
We are at MERV 15.  Too expensive to go UV.   All persons in community want miracles with no money.  If I had the money, I would do UW in HVAC systems.  For Spring semester, change out our MERV 15’s to fresh MERV 15’s
Aging infrastructure, equipment capability to accommodate restricted airflow, cost, timing, availability.
Cold weather restricts our ability to efficiently maximize outside air; it is a balancing act regarding health and energy consumption.
With doubling out outside air intake, the utility bills for the Winter will go up and, in some cases, due to the freeze stats, we will need to lower the outside air intake.
Knowing which applications are viable, affordable, able to be accomplished, this late in the game.  No adjustment needed.  Continue to closely monitor our HVAC systems.
Time and money.
Budget. Maintain what we have.
Modern air systems in good shape – only problem is convincing salesmen and leaders that no action is required.
Seasonal changes while trying to keep a modicum of energy oversight in place. Scheduling of systems is a challenge also. Lots of tweaking and fine-tuning for somewhat spotty and erratic occupancies.
We will continue to run HVAC with additional outside air (energy conservation suffers.)  No adjustments from fall semester processes.
Too soon to say.
No challenge.  Beyond the low likelihood of transmission *through* an HVAC system (separate from air distribution inside as space.) CSUN has converted all buildings able to be modified to MERV-13 filters or better.
Air handlers that cannot handle a MERV 13 nor do we have the lead time to get them.
Time and money.
Money and time.
Running the HVAC system 24 hours per day will impact already stretched utilities budget. All our systems are MERV 13. Some older buildings have no outside air recirculation.
Funding and time.  With our newly installed GPS Ionizers throughout campus this should help with cleaner air.
Access to filters at times.
Older systems that are not capable of running with the suggested modifications.
No changes.
Budget necessary to make the HVAC changes that we would like to make.
None planned….no changes. Good maintenance; filter changes; optimal operating efficiencies with max designed outside air.
Will maintain increased outdoor air where possible.  Areas without adequate outdoor air are off limits for in person teaching and restricted for other uses.
Money to upgrade systems in buildings with less than desired ventilation.
Funding and time to install equipment.  No changes planned for Spring.
No evidence of air system transmission.
Same as fall. We replaced with MERV 13, or MERV double 10 where we can but are not rebuilding duct or systems.
Many faculty and staff are often unsure if the situation is safe, and that everything that could be done has been done.
We have maintained SOP for HVAC units.
No adjustments planned.
Lack of funds.
Fitness areas are required to be filtered with MERV-13 which are difficult to obtain. Maintaining high percentage of outside air as it gets colder outside.
Most of our HVAC upgrades are complete. We are in good shape for Spring.
De-densification is the answer. Even at 50% you have 50% more air. We have of course made engineering modifications within spec but not massive changes.
Availability of MERV 11 or higher-grade filters.
Lots of deferred maintenance with our HVAC systems means we have old units that are difficult to upgrade filters in.  Also our oldest buildings have minimal air flow and distribution systems.
No issues.
Our HVAC systems were already stressed due to lack of investment, renewal, and upgrade.   Keeping them running is the biggest threat.
We have maximized fresh air intakes and exhaust, and will need to closely monitor for coil freezing ups.
We have implemented all HVAC upgrades recommended by ASHRAE and industry standards. The biggest challenge is educating our campus community that the campus buildings are safe.
Honestly, it is the cost of installation for the entire campus and residence halls.  We have reviewed and implemented several action items as recommended.  For example, fresh air exchanges have increased via extended run times or purging processes. Filters have been upgraded and some UV systems installed in some locations.  Biggest challenge is getting the right technology in place within the financial constraints we now have.
Receiving orders of MRV-13 filter materials which is in direct conflict with N-95 mask production. Orders placed this past summer and trickling in over the past 3-4 months with more due in the next couple months.
Acquiring higher rated MERV filters.
We’ve done all we can without major capital reinvestment, which is not possible currently with budget restraints.
We have moved what little F2F learning is happening to well ventilated buildings and have increased air exchange rates for those areas.  I think we will be thinking of this situation when we consider retrofits and new builds.
Upgrading old systems.
Keeping up with preventative maintenance with a reduced workforce.
Maintain procedures in place as of this past summer.
Older buildings that do not have modern systems.  We have a campus with many buildings dating back to early 1800s and HVAC systems are not necessarily centralized or rooms are simply running on ductless splits.
None.  We have made required air changes and filter changes.
1. Budget 2. Labor
N/A for our department.
We have not made any HVAC changes with the exception of increasing outside air and adding outside air flush cycles where possible.  If we were to go another step it would likely be ION systems but cost and time to implement would hamper this to the point of not being installed until this is over.
The challenge is the expectation of some that every system in every building will be made cutting-edge.  
Old buildings that simply can’t handle Merv 13 filters.  Avoid using those facilities as much as possible.
Be able to get to certain locations due to construction or renovations.  These areas will remain off limits until the upgrades are ready to begin during the early part of the spring semester in January 2021.
Communications about the science of virus transmission.  No evidence to date of HVAC systems circulating the virus throughout building spaces.  The only widely distributed study speaks about a single space with directed airflow spreading the virus from table to table in a restaurant.  If there is science that examines wide distribution of virus-laden spores/droplets, we have not seen it.  Meanwhile, faculty are clinging to the restaurant study as proof of that the indoor air quality is unhealthy.
HVAC filter replacements are complete.
Maintaining negative pressure on site.
Time, staff able to perform the work.
Old equipment that can’t be adjusted much and/or can’t take better (MERV-13 or HEPA) filters. We’ve already done what we can do with the equipment we have. At least since it’s winter we’re not also battling humidity and mold.
We had issues with supply chain and lead times on filters, but our initial orders included what we need for Spring so we should be prepared.  We have already made system upgrades in the spaces that we are using for classes.  Our fall occupancies were based on outside air calculations in addition to 6′ distances.  Due to winter weather limitations we will be revisiting our system operations and may make further occupancy adjustments. There are now models ( ) that can be used to better assess risk.  Buildings without mechanical ventilation remain a challenge and we will adjust occupancy and add portable filtration as necessary.
Cost, budget cuts
Room HVAC has been evaluated and rooms w/o sufficient air change have been removed from usage.
Considering ozone free ionization devices.  Increasing time between classes in buildings with very little to no mechanical ventilation.  MERV-13 filters installed in AHU’s.  Can no longer bring in 100% outside air and exhaust 100% with colder temperatures.
university is in good shape on this
Filter materials continue to be a supply chain issue, plus locations to store what we have across campus.
Getting supplies.
Funding to increase filtration. Social distancing and face masks are still the most viable solution.
We have installed plasma ions in all units and do not find this to be challenging
Lack of funding and staff. We will continue to operate HVAC systems to address fresh air needs in our buildings.
Older systems
no challenges for us, we’re used to fine dust so our systems already had the most efficient filter it can handle
None – we have done everything we plan to do and plan to repeat the same.
Have zero funds to perform upgrades.
None.  We took the approach of maximizing OA, increasing ACH in high occupancy spaces, and purging spaces before and after the academic day.  So far, that has worked very well without the need to invest in expensive and likely ineffective retrofits.
We have Merv 13 in all HVAC systems.  The hardest part is answering “internet researchers” who have found an answer – primarily UV or stand alone room size filtration.
Misunderstanding on the part of the campus community, coupled with a lack of willingness to read our plan.
Older buildings mechanical systems that can’t accept higher level filters or UV units. Windows in older buildings that don’t open.  Loss of energy efficiency.
Funding availability. We have purchased several large air purifiers to place in buildings and are changing filters on a more frequent basis.
Cost and lack of information to justify additional spending.   Plans remain unchanged unless additional funding becomes available.
Currently adding UV lights, air purifiers and better filters.
Cannot get MERV 13 filters in a timely manner and opening outside air dampers can create a coil freezing issue with air handlers.
Locations with temporary ventilation installed, dealing with cold temperatures.