ASHRAE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalizing the organizations’ relationship.

The MOU was signed by Charles E. Gulledge III, P.E., 2020-2021 ASHRAE president, and Robert P. Burns, executive director of the Office of Innovation and Collaboration for DHS S&T via electronic signature in January and a kick-off event took place on Feb. 26 to further specify the path forward. The agreement defines parameters by which ASHRAE and DHS S&T will discuss and share information about emerging research results and technologies in HVAC systems, in order to support building occupant health and safety across the Homeland Security Enterprise.

ASHRAE and DHS S&T intend to explore how best to mitigate the movement of airborne pathogens through building systems, including through:

  • Ventilation for reducing the risk of exposure;
  • Effective filtration efficiencies to capture respirable particles;
  • The efficacy, safety and implementation of different air disinfection technologies and operating strategies within the DHS enterprise or in public facilities;
  • The effect of air distribution, directionality and objects within spaces on exposure risk; and
  • Reduced occupancy, and space allocation and room set-up as risk mitigation strategies.

“ASHRAE’s indoor air quality and building systems expertise are crucial in addressing the challenges of limiting the spread of infectious diseases,” said Gulledge. “We are delighted to partner with DHS S&T as we collaborate on key research to support the health and well-being of building occupants.”

Other areas of collaboration include sharing of data to inform models and solutions relating to SARS-CoV-2 and other biological and chemical threats to public health. This will include data related to HVAC systems, types of filters, personnel safeguarding, temperature and humidity control, outdoor air flow rates and sustainable building practices.