Ventilation matters

How the University is managing the risks associated with COVID-19 being an airborne virus

A range of factors work together to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on campus, including vaccination, testing and isolation, cleaning, ventilation, personal behaviour, face masks, welfare-first COVID‑19 case management, and flexible learning and working arrangements.

Like all airborne pathogens, the principles for minimising transmission through air in our buildings include:

  • Ventilation with fresh outside air reduces the concentration of airborne contaminants, including viruses
  • Filtration of recirculating air reduces the concentration of airborne virus particles
  • Minimising the transfer of air between spaces reduces opportunities for the virus to spread through a building via the air-conditioning flow patterns

The University of Melbourne has implemented a variety of ventilation and filtration infrastructure controls to protect the University community from indoor airborne transmission of COVID-19, including:

  • Assessing ventilation systems and control measures – the majority of assessed buildings have either Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems or operable windows capable of ensuring adequate air intake and exchange
  • Increasing ventilation via mechanical or natural means where necessary – where the system is unable to ensure to adequate air intake and exchange, other mitigations, such as portable air purifiers have been deployed
  • Filtration of recirculating air to remove more airborne virus particles
  • Real-time monitoring of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels as a proxy to evaluate airborne virus risk and adequate fresh air supply – sensors have been installed in each teaching space and every floor in every occupied building to actively monitor air quality. These are monitored by a central team who take action as needed, such as adjusting ventilation settings or deploying portable air purifiers.
  • Operating procedures and maintenance cycles have been updated, including servicing of air purifiers and CO2 sensors every 6 months
  • Directing airflow away from people where possible

We’re also encouraging students and staff to increase their use of outdoor areas where possible for outdoor classrooms, informal study, walking meetings, meals and other breaks.

At a glance: find out more about ventilation at the University of Melbourne.