UPDATE: University building ventilation systems and COVID-19

The university continues to prioritize your safety during COVID-19. With more staff, students, faculty and visitors returning to campus in the coming months, it is important we understand that our university building ventilation systems are continually monitored and adjusted to keep us safe.

Our campus communities

The university’s building ventilation (HVAC) systems are designed to circulate fresh air safely and are continually monitored to ensure proper operation. Capacity monitoring is also in place.

Adjustments are made as required to deliver a safe and comfortable indoor environment in all our buildings. Ventilation continues to be an important part of our layered approach to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This includes:

  • Reviewing ventilation systems to ensure proper operation
  • Increasing operational time for any system that turned off at night to run extended times
  • Increasing air filtration to MERV-13 in the majority of buildings

Buildings on our campuses

Working together, we can keep our communities safe by following the COVID-19 safety protocols around getting vaccinated, hand-washing, physical distancing, checking in before visiting campus and more.

Facilities and Operations continues to monitor emerging information and modifying systems as needed to ensure U of A buildings remain safe. Any adjustments to our systems are made in accordance with APPA - Leadership in Educational Facilities, American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Health Canada, Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services

In the EHS HVAC FAQ in section 10, the American Industrial Hygiene Association indicates three air changes per hour (ACH) provides a 78% risk reduction to COVID-19 transmission and six ACH provides 95% risk reduction. We have targeted our spaces to provide 3-6 ACH. We are continuing to work with ventilation experts to measure and verify air flow in buildings and will update information we have published as we receive this information.

Section 6 of the FAQ speaks to why CO2 is only one indicator of ventilation and requires assessment and any interpretation should be conducted by a specialist.


Original notice date June 8, 2021
Last updated December 14, 2021