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In 2020 as a result of the pandemic, Metropolitan State University reviewed and implemented ventilation strategies in accordance with CDC guidelines. This included flushing buildings with fresh air for extended operating hours. he buildings are ventilated for two hours prior and after normal occupied hours with fresh air.

Filtration ratings and preventative maintenance schedules were reviewed and existing maintenance practices confirmed. Filtration levels in our St Paul campus buildings are at recommended levels.

Additionally, we conducted an independent mechanical review by TKDA engineering to document ventilation in spaces and review air handling practices, outdoor airflow rates and occupant density in campus spaces. The engineering review used Minnesota Mechanical code and ASHRAE Standard 62.1 Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality standards for specifying the minimum outdoor air (ventilation) rates of circulation through various occupancy classifications. The review included guidance for SARS-COV-2 which addressed transmission through the air of various pathogens in office and education environments.

Five site visits to document building automation system values and filtration levels were conducted. Two site visits to verify missing information on existing conditions and use of spaces. These site visits included the St Paul campus buildings, Midway Technology Center and the Dental Clinic.

The Minneapolis College (Old and New Harmon) office and classroom spaces were not included in this mechanical assessment. That building is planned for extensive renovation as part of a Capital bonding initiative. Design work is beginning in summer 2021 for this project. Construction work which includes extensive HVAC and electrical work as well as interior spaces renovation is scheduled to begin in late summer 2022.

Summary of Assessment

  • Test and balancing at MSU owned facilities should focus on increasing minimum ventilation rates during heating season, specifically in Variable Air Volume HVAC systems. This is the biggest opportunity for improvement. (Work to adjust building controls systems to increase fresh air supply during winter season will be completed this fall).
  • Overall, mechanical ventilation systems maintained by MSU full-time facilities staff are in excellent working condition and regular maintenance efforts and system upkeep is commendable. Filters have been upgraded to meet current MERV rating recommendations.
  • Midway’s ventilation systems are currently undergoing a renovation from pneumatic controls to Direct Digital Controls (DDC). Select HVAC zones with updated controls were identified by MSU for ventilation and airflow verification. Campus Operations staff is meeting with the landlord to obtain confirmation of code compliance and get regular updates on progress towards completing the mechanical work.
  • The Dental clinic space had lower levels of minimum air supply levels in the space than would be recommended. Filtration levels for the building are MERV 8. A recommendation to add larger commercial grade HEPA filtration units in this space is recommended to provide air cleansing in this clinical space. Staff is working on sizing and purchasing equipment is in progress.

Building Filtration

  • Founders Hall: 2” Pre-filter MERV 7 rating, 12” Pocket filter MERV 13 rating
  • St John’s Hall Main Building: 2” Pre-filter MERV 7 rating, 12” Pocket filter MERV 13 rating
  • St Johns’ Smart Classroom: 2” filter MERV 7 rating
  • New Main: 2” Pre-filter MERV 7 rating, 12” Pocket filter MERV 13 rating
  • Library: 2” Pre-filter MERV 7 rating, 12” Pocket filter MERV 13 rating
  • Student Center: 2” Pre-filter MERV 7 rating, 12” Pocket filter MERV 13 rating
  • Jason R. Carter Science Education Center: Pre-filter MERV 8, Post Filter MERV 13 rating
  • Air Handling Unit #1: 2” Filter MERV 7 rating, 4” Post Filter MERV 13 rating
  • HRU Labs: 2” Filter MERV 7 rating, 4” Post Filter MERV 13 rating
  • Parking Ramp: 4” Filter MERV 13 rating
  • Art Studio: Rooftop Unit 2” Filter MERV 7 rating
  • Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship: MERV 13 rating, 2 HEPA filtration units are installed in common space in this building

Minneapolis College

  • New Harmon: MERV 14 filters
  • Old Harmon: MERV 13 filters

The New Harmon air handler and variable air volume system was recently upgraded specifically for the safety of staff and students in repose to the pandemic. The air handler had a new heating coil added to allow us to bring in more outside air in cooler weather. All the classrooms and offices in New Harman had the pneumatic controls replaced with electronic to be able to monitor the cubic feet of air and the amount of air changes per hour. These upgrades will also help greatly with providing consistently comfortable temperatures. The New Harmon air exchange rate is approximately 11.85 per hour.

The rooftop air handling unit serving Old Harmon is programmed to run 24 hours Monday through Friday for temperature control and to provide additional air exchanges in the space. The air exchange rate of Old Harmon is approximately 8.45. per hour.

Minneapolis College building automation software is monitored throughout the day by the plant engineers starting at 5:30 a.m. and continuing until 10:00 p.m. to ensure the system is functioning properly.

Midway Technology Center

  • Technology Center: Six air handling units use MERV 11 filters

The Technology Center building is currently undergoing an upgrade for the building temperature controls. This project upgrade is being completed on first and second floor in 2021. Lower level spaces and classrooms will be completed in 2022.

Campus Operations are working with the Midway landlord to validate air supply as the office and classroom spaces are converted to digital controls.

Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Center

  • LECJEC: MERV 8 prefilter and a MERV 12 primary filter.
  • Firing Ranges: MERV 7 prefilter and a MERV 12 primary filter.

Dental Clinic

The Dental Clinic is a leased space. The building uses MERV 7 filters. HEPA filtration is also being used in the dental clinic at the individual operatories.