Campus Return Planning Guide: Operational Supports

Return to Campus Resourcing Planning Tool

Resuming in-person, campus-based activities marks a significant change from what many faculty and staff have experienced since March 2020. Determining which employees need to return to campus, and when, has required thoughtful planning by Deans, Vice-Presidents, Associate Vice-Presidents, department heads, directors, and supervisors. To support managers in planning for this return, materials have been developed to assist leaders in the planning process. These materials will provide a process to follow as well as resources on how best to support employees while ensuring the smooth operation of faculties and administrative units.

These resources are available through the Senior Human Resources Advisors Network. If you have immediate questions contact your departmental administrator or your HR contact for more information.

Building Reopening

As faculty and staff return to campus, your building or unit administrators are working directly with their Facility Manager from UBC Facilities to facilitate the reopening of their spaces. For a list of Facility Managers and contact information, click here.

Reopening includes the scheduling of custodial services, and where a building is scheduled to be open on a daily basis, physical unlocking of exterior doors. All exterior doors that are on Secure Access systems must be requested by the departmental/unit administrator via to be unlocked. If a building occupant needs to access the building outside of the hours that the building is officially opened, they will need to use their UBC ID card that should be programmed to open the main entrance. Please note that Building Operations do not need to be contacted regarding general maintenance activities such as water system flushing, fire alarm testing, heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) maintenance as these activities have occurred throughout the pandemic. The following timelines should be expected for this service to occur:

  • If the building has been occupied, but your space has not: one week
  • If the building has not been occupied: two weeks

COVID-19 related signage can be found here, which includes signage around the use of mandatory masks. Please remove all other signage for your space and ensure the mandatory signage contained in this package is hung. Please contact your Facility Manager if you require wall-safe tape for signage installation.

Maintenance of Hand Sanitizer Stations

Building Operations is responsible for hand sanitizer stations placed at all building entrances only. Should building occupants elect to purchase hand sanitizer and stations for other areas of their facility, it will be the building occupants' responsibility to ensure they are maintained and refilled appropriately.

Building Access Hours

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a strategy to align building access hours has been developed. This will ensure better building security and will enable Custodial Services to perform thorough cleaning protocols after hours. Changes in building access hours will remain in effect through 2021/22 Winter Terms 1 and 2, and will be reassessed for 2022 Summer Session Term 1. For further information on building hours, click here, and for information on access to buildings, click here.

Custodial Services & Cleaning

Building Operations wants to reassure the community that Custodial Services has been keeping facilities clean; sanitizing high traffic and high touch-point areas daily in addition to the routine cleaning as per regular operations. UBC Custodial Services continues to follow industry cleaning standards from ISSA Canada and APPA Leadership in Educational Facilities, which reflect a blended approach designed to manage risk and cleaning standards during COVID-19.

For more information on Custodial Service standards during COVID-19, click here.


With the updated guidance on May 5, 2021 from the BC Centre for Disease Control regarding airborne transmission of COVID-19, the performance of our building ventilation systems remains a particular focus to ensure systems are in good operating condition.

UBC established a COVID-19 HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) Working Group to review and consider implementation of technical recommendations to enhance building ventilation systems and reduce the risk of airborne infectious aerosol exposure in buildings owned and operated by UBC. As the university prepares to resume on-campus instruction and ensure a safe indoor environment, the working group has prioritized our campus teaching spaces.

The working group team includes professional engineers and Subject Matter Experts in the design, maintenance and operation of building mechanical systems, and in occupational and environmental health. The group assessed building ventilation systems and formed recommendations based on information from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers(ASHRAE), WorkSafeBC, and the BC Centre for Disease Control to ensure a high standard of safety and to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The working group had many discussions about best practices and took a balanced approach providing practical solutions that will ensure safe building environments that can be effectively implemented based on the complexity and limitations of our campus buildings.

Increased Ventilation and Outdoor Air

Ventilation will be increased on main air handling units (AHU) that serve classrooms, offices, lunchrooms, hallways, study spaces, lobbies, etc. This will be done by implementing the methods below:

  • AHUs will be programmed to increase operations to include an additional two hours of pre- or post-occupancy flush of air.
  • Outdoor air will be increased above ASHRAE design quantity during occupied hours; the level of increased outdoor air will depend on equipment design limitations to ensure occupant comfort and humidity levels.
  • The current schedule of AHUs that are not scheduled to be on 24/7 will be reviewed to confirm that the times that the building is primarily occupied mirror the times the units are on.
  • AHUs that serve laboratory spaces operate 24/7 and are designed to bring in 100% outdoor air.

Improved Air Filtration

  • The majority of filters on campus are equipped with ASHRAE-recommended MERV13 filters. Where mechanical system design allows, any filters that are not currently MERV13 will be upgraded.
  • Building AHU filters are changed based on the operating context, inspection results, diagnostic readings and time-based replacements.

Enhanced Maintenance & Upgrades

  • Physical inspections are being undertaken to ensure function of outdoor air dampers and HVAC controls on main air handling units.
  • A review of the feasibility of upgrading teaching spaces without mechanical systems (<5% of teaching spaces) by adding fans or portable filtration units to increase air in teaching spaces without mechanical ventilation is underway. If the review determines that this is not feasible, occupancy will be reduced or spaces will not be utilized. All Faculties impacted by non-mechanically ventilated teaching spaces have been contacted. More information on which teaching spaces may be impacted will be available by the end of June.

Air Monitoring

  • We are working through air monitoring parameters with the School of Population & Public Health, Occupation and Environmental Health Division. The focus will be on areas with no mechanical ventilation and have higher occupancy to determine if areas are meeting acceptable CO2 levels.

These measures, in addition to already established operations and maintenance practices, will enhance the functionality of building HVAC systems to ensure a high standard of safety for students, faculty and staff at UBC.

UBC Facilities Managers will be working with Building Administrators to share updated information as we progress. More information on ventilation systems for specific teaching spaces is available on the UBC Facilities website.

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