Novel coronavirus information

August 24, 2021

FAQ: How is the UW adjusting building ventilation during the pandemic?

As we prepare for in-person instruction this autumn, we’re highlighting some of the questions and answers in the COVID-19 frequently asked questions of greatest interest to the community.

UW Facilities (UWF) proactively monitors the performance of the ventilation systems that keep air circulating in UW buildings on the Seattle campus. Since the pandemic’s onset, UWF has worked closely with UW Environmental Health & Safety to adjust building ventilation systems as public health guidelines evolved.

Additional measures taken to respond to COVID-19 include:

  • Extra checks of ventilation systems and equipment
  • Extended operating hours for mechanical ventilation systems
  • Increased outside air ventilation rates where possible
  • Encouraging building occupants to open windows in spaces with natural ventilation
  • Implementing special out-of-cycle checks on central supply air fan MERV-13 filters
  • Checking mechanical components such as fans, dampers and cooling/heating coils.

UWF staff members also respond directly to any concerns reported by building occupants. 

In preparation for greater numbers of students and employees returning to in-person learning and working this September, the UW is in the process of purchasing air purifiers to install in small- and medium-sized classrooms on the Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses. Airflow tests and analysis are being conducted on all campuses in a selection of classrooms identified by Academic and Student Affairs. In addition:

  • In Seattle, building coordinators are conducting thorough walk-throughs using the Environmental Health & Safety building checklist.
  • UW Tacoma utilizes MERV-13 filters in the HVAC systems throughout all classrooms, and completed air flow checks in specified rooms across campus to confirm adequate air exchange with fresh air from outside.
  • At UW Bothell, airflow tests are being conducted in 87 classrooms, labs and performance spaces. Based on those results, additional measures will be taken including the installation of air purifiers where needed.

To learn more: