Filtration units make airy music in novel spaces

March 17, 2022

In the silence between rehearsals in a classroom at a David Geffen School of Drama building on Crown Street, a light hum floats in the background. Among the music stands, chairs, and screens is an appliance that complements the shape of an upright piano across the room but is making its own unique sound. Tethered to a nearby window by a set of silvery ducts, one of the Office of Facilities’ air filtering ventilation units (AFVU) is circulating air. 

The unit’s design was conceived by Yale engineers as part of the campus-wide response to COVID-19 and includes an enclosed compartment containing a motorized fan, removable filter, and an energy recovery module to condition and deliver fresh outside air. Many AFVUs, including the one on Crown Street, are topped by a distinctive stack that discharges filtered air into the space. 

“All of our units are custom-built to provide ventilation and air filtration for rooms that do not have conventional mechanical ventilation. Each AFVU brings fresh air into a room from outside, tempers the temperature of that air, and filters the air that is already within the room,” said John-Paulo Fernandes, Director of Plant Operations and Planning. “This equipment maintains high air quality in spaces all over the university.” 

At the Crown Street location, there are several AFVUs installed throughout the building, many of which are different in size and configured based on the requirements of each room. These accommodations begin at Facilities’ millwork shop in Science Park, where the physical plant team collaborates on the creation of each unit.  

“Millworkers like myself construct wooden boxes that contain the motorized equipment for these units that electricians wire and mechanics maintain,” said Philip Vitale, Millworker for the Office of Facilities. “Yale’s painters make the AFVUs look good before they leave the shop.” 

Following the completion of each unit, the Facilities’ operations team and a vetted contractor install AFVUs in buildings across campus that do not have operable windows or are reliant on using operable windows for fresh air because there is no mechanical ventilation system at that location.  

“Occupants appreciate the tempered outside air during the winter months and whenever the weather is less than ideal,” stated John-Paulo. 

Every month Facilities representatives inspect all the AFVUs installed across campus, which currently cover more than 75 units in 35 buildings. Operations personnel make sure the units are running, that the filters are considered for replacement, the ducts are clear, and if cleaning the equipment is needed. 

“Our AFVUs have provided a successful ventilation solution that can be deployed quickly and easily monitored. They are proven to deliver better indoor air quality,” said Michael Lamore, Senior Mechanical Engineer. 

If you are interested in learning more about AFVUs or have any concerns regarding a unit in your building, please visit the Office of Facilities website or contact Yale Facilities Customer Service at (203) 432-6888.

Photos by Ronnie Rysz, Office of Facilities.