Facilities Resumption FAQ

June 20, 2020


  1. How much notice do you need for returning faculty/staff/students?

    Two weeks’ notice is required.  This applies to all University buildings and residences.

  2. Why do you need two weeks’ notice before faculty/staff/students return to buildings on campus?

    • We have a formal review process with Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS), Student Health, CDC, and Building administrators that will need to be reviewed
    • Union Notification is required
    • Need one week on site with staff to ensure safe working environment that include training of staff as well deep cleaning.
    • All Housekeeping staff will be completing training by EHRS
  3. What processes do you have in place to ensure clean buildings and surfaces?

    In addition to our Standard Operating Procedure, we maintain, clean, and disinfect in accordance with CDC guidelines.  We use a Hospital Grade Disinfectant when disinfecting buildings daily and have implemented a florescent marking system that allows us to verify cleaning techniques.  We are also using electrostatic sprayers in athletic areas.

    Our staff are fully compliant with PPE at all times.

  4. What are you doing to help keep individuals safe once they enter the building?

    We are installing hand sanitizer at all entry points and elevators on ground floor, integrating touchless dispensers, and revising furniture layouts to allow for social distancing.

    Signage with guidelines for socially distancing, cleaning protocols, circulation, and entry/entrance points for individuals occupying University buildings will be installed.

  5. What special considerations are you implementing for Laboratories and Research Clinics?

    Individual organizations can purchase PPE & supplies through the Penn Marketplace using the guidance provided by EHRS and Purchasing Services. Housekeeping focuses on high touch points, sinks, trash, and floors.  Lab staff should support by providing wipes for individuals to wipe their desk/workspace. 

  6. What special considerations are given for Residential Buildings?

    High touch points are cleaned multiple times a day.  For residences with group restrooms (Hill, Quad, Stouffer and Kings Court/English House), student may be assigned to a specific restroom to ensure they are evenly used.  Students will be asked to support the cleaning efforts by using provided wipes before/after each use.  Students should wear flip flops in the shower and not share soap, shampoo, or other products.  The schedule for disinfecting is anticipated to be two times per day.  Appropriate signage is being developed. 

  7. What special considerations are given to cleaning classrooms and central pool classrooms?

    With limited time between classes, disinfecting after each class will be a shared responsibility.  Wipes will be provided for students to grab on the way into the classroom to wipe their own desk/workspace.

  8. How can I help support the cleaning efforts in our office?

    For both faculty and staff offices/workspace, housekeeping will provide full cleaning and disinfecting weekly.  Individuals are asked to wipe their personal design and workspace.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cleaning/Disinfectant Supplies Procurement Guidelines

  1. What guidelines are used in choosing the right cleaning/disinfectant supplies or PPE to purchase?

    Consistency of the products used are based on specifications set forth by Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS), Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES) and Student Health Services (SHS). 

  2. How do I request or obtain PPE?

    • Individual Schools, Centers, departments and divisions should purchase PPE and cleaning supplies directly for their organizations through the identified preferred suppliers in the Penn Marketplace, using the standards developed by EHRS and Purchasing Services.
    • Special Spot-Sourcing and Central Sourcing Support available through strategic sourcing team, sourcing@upenn.edu
    • A central emergency inventory will be maintained by EHRS to support University operations when needed.


Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing SystemsHVAC systems

  1. What are the recommendations on how to reoccupy a building? What measures should be taken with HVAC systems to return them to normal operation?

    FRES has consulted with ASHRAE and reviewed other relevant recommendations. Based on these inputs, we will perform the following:

    • Remove all setbacks modes and return equipment to occupied mode.
    • Open outside air intake dampers to maximum position for a minimum of four hours before occupation. While performing this “flush out” mode monitor the systems ensure space temperature and humidity are being maintained.
  2. What is the MERV filter standard on campus and what is the scientific data on those ratings?

    ASHRAE Standard 52.2 establishes application guidelines for MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) filters.  ASHRAE states that filters that are MERV 13 and above are efficient at capturing airborne viruses. The Penn standard for filters stipulates a MERV 8 pre filter and a MERV 14 final filter (MERV 14 is a finer mesh than MERV 13).

  3. Should filters be changed more frequently? How often in Penn changing filters? What are the recommended methods of replacement and disposal?

    ASHRAE does not recommend filters be changed more frequently.  They recommend owners to consider letting the filter load up further than usual to reduce the frequency of filter changes.   Penn’s current schedule for filter changes is 3-4 months for MERV 8 filters and 12 to 18 months for MERV 14 filters.  The MERV 14 filters are rated to last 24 months.  Workers performing filter changes follow EHRS recommendations for Personal Protective Equipment.   Filters are sealed in boxes or bags and disposed of in regular trash outside of buildings.

  4. Do ventilation rates in the buildings need to be increased? What are Penn’s air exchange rates for labs, offices and restrooms?

    ASHRAE recommends following the current ASHRAE 62 Standard - Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality.  Penn follows these standards for offices, classrooms, and restrooms.  For these types of spaces, the ventilation rates are based on the number or occupants and the square footage of the space.  For general lab spaces, the air change rate is set by whichever is the highest for the space: makeup air for fume hoods, 6 air changes per hour rate, or space cooling load; unless prescribed otherwise by EHRS. 

  5. What humidity levels does Penn maintain and what is being recommended for fighting COVID 19?

    Penn standards call for the buildings to maintain a max Relative Humidity (RH) of 50% in the summertime. There is no standard from ASHRAE for a minimum RH requirement for winter.   

  6. Which air handlers are 100% outside air (OA) and which ones have recirculation or return air?

    Penn standards require lab air handlers to be 100% OA.  All other air handlers serving classrooms, offices, and all other areas have a certain amount of recirculated air per ASHRAE standards.

  7. Does Penn have UVGI lamps installed in the HVAC equipment?

    Penn does not have UVGI lamps installed in HVAC systems, and they are not recommended by EHRS.


Domestic Water Systems

  1. What are you doing to flush out domestic water systems prior to building reopening?

    Per ASHRAE recommends that domestic water systems be flushed to remove potential contaminants from stagnant water in equipment, piping, and fixtures. This goal shall be achieved by flushing out all domestic hot- and cold-water systems, including all fixtures, piping mains and branch lines.


Occupancy Guidelines – Commercial Office Buildings

  1. What provisions are made for housekeeping, air and water systems to prep and maintain the space if my office is in a leased building?

    Additional provisions are being made in our commercial office space at Penn and in leased buildings, as monitored by the FRES Real Estate office. Housekeeping will follow CDC guidelines, including high touch surfaces and common areas.  Signage similar to what will be installed on-campus will also be installed in these spaces.  For HVAC systems, enhanced filtration and outside air to maximize air changes are implemented, per CDC and ASHRAE recommendations.



  1. Are there existing guidelines for design, production, and posting of new signage to go in our campus buildings, or does signage get produced in-house by a School or Center?

    The Office of the University Architect has created a Penn signage catalog with approved standardized signage from a preferred supplier, to provide uniform messaging across the University.  Signage can be customizable by Schools & Centers to address specific areas or functions.