Since the beginning of the pandemic, Facilities Management has worked diligently to protect the health and safety of our University. When the COVID-19 stay home order was issued by the governor, the staff in Facilities Management stayed on-site. The engineers continued to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

In that time, Northeastern Illinois University invested in long-term improvements to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to ensure safety. Following the most current CDC and American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommendations for infectious aerosols, all HVAC systems were surveyed, serviced and sampled, and upgrades were performed throughout all University locations. NEIU has met or exceeded all industry standards, namely the recommendations for infectious aerosols set by ASHRAE.

Steps taken

  • The engineering department, together with outside contractors, have performed inspections, cleanings and preventative maintenance to maximize outside airflow while continuing to control temperatures within University standards.
  • Facilities Management contracted with a testing and balancing contractor certified by the Testing and Balancing Bureau to perform testing and verification of work performed on HVAC systems.
  • All buildings had improved air filtration to MERV 13 filters as recommended by ASHRAE.
  • Engineering staff vacuumed vents and cleaned supply and return registers in all NEIU buildings.
  • HVAC fan units have also been vacuumed, power washed, and cleaned by an outside company that specializes in HVAC cleaning services. University HVAC systems are monitored to ensure that they are running properly and that the Building Automation Systems controls, which monitor and control all HVAC systems airflow, is operational.
  • Variable frequency drives, new cooling coils and condensate pans were installed and replaced where required, failing components were replaced, and surge protection of controls installed to ensure proper operations of HVAC.
  • All Lech Walesa Hall HVAC perimeter office induction units providing air to offices were steam cleaned and wiped down.

Ongoing steps

  • Change out MERV 13 filters as required.
  • Monitor the HVAC building automation system.
  • Perform monthly flushing of drinking water sources.
  • Monitor and follow CDC and ASHRAE guidelines and recommendations.

Additionally, Northeastern is taking the necessary precautions and being proactive when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting the places and spaces used by our students, faculty and staff. Facilities Management staff are cleaning spaces following their normal protocols for each type of space at the Main Campus, El Centro and the Carruthers Center.

The cleaning will be followed by an application of disinfectants, using an electrostatic fogger. Bactericidal and virucidal commercial cleaners are used regularly by Facilities Management and cleaning contractors. High-touch points like handrails, door handles and light switches are receiving increased attention. The University is in close contact with contractors at the Child Care Center that are scheduled to disinfect this location daily.