YUFA concerns about HVAC operations on campus and COVID-19 transmission

During the summer, YUFA repeatedly raised health and safety issues with the employer as faculty, students and staff prepare for an in-person return to campus this Fall. Recently, YUFA received the remaining CFMS Consulting Inc. reports on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) operations and practices in York Hall/Glendon, Petrie, and Vanier College. In consultation with our members with subject matter knowledge, YUFA finds these recent reports to be inconclusive and incomplete, just as for other CFMS building reports.

The concerns include:

broken or decalibrated sensors and thus inaccurate sensor readings from Building Automation System (BAS) in a number of buildings resulting in an inability to determine from the reports if actual air change rates (ACH) in classrooms meets ASHRAE standards of at least 6 air changes per hour
missing information regarding the percentage of outdoor air flow for all buildings
● various methodological flaws and measurement errors

The above issues and many others were communicated to the employer over email and at the COVID-19 table meetings, most recently on August 24th. At this meeting the Assistant Vice-President, Facilities and Services was in attendance to answer YUFA’s questions on ventilation.

YUFA left this meeting with many unanswered questions about the actual state of HVAC operations on campus. The employer has indicated that it will respond in writing with more precise and comprehensive answers to YUFA’s concerns by Friday, September 2nd.

YUFA therefore continues to have serious concerns regarding York University’s current HVAC operations and is unable to provide assurances to members that ventilation systems are working adequately. Although the employer strongly encourages vaccination and the use of masks in indoor spaces, YUFA is urging the employer to reinstate its previous vaccination requirement and mask mandate out of an abundance of caution and to protect the most vulnerable members of our community.

Members who wish to read a more detailed account of these issues are encouraged to review Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) representative Professor James Smith’s most recent feedback, as well as his earlier briefing, on the CFMS reports. YUFA would like to express its gratitude to Professor Smith and other colleagues with subject matter knowledge and individuals from the York University community who have generously provided their time and assistance in helping us interpret these CFMS reports.