Daedalus COVID-19 Precautions and a Healthier Future

With three effective vaccines being distributed, a time when we can put this pandemic behind us is on the horizon. But that time isn’t here yet – and is likely six months or more away. Although we still encourage and support work-from-home, much of our work is best done with our office equipment or in the same physical space as the rest of a project team. So, in addition to social distancing, temperature checks, masks, and the provision of hand sanitizer and surface disinfectants, we’ve made a few additional changes to our old* industrial building to help our employees, clients, and other visitors stay healthy.

Bringing fresh air from outside is a good way to keep the potential viral load in the office low. So, a relatively easy thing we did was to increase the amount of “makeup” air that our HVAC system uses to the maximum possible, which is about 50%. This means that we’re only recycling and re-using about half of the air in the office at any time. This worked well when the weather was mild, but as we head into cold weather, we may need to reduce the amount of makeup air that we use.

Our primary undertaking was to add new components to our air filtration system. Here are a couple of “before” pictures of the air vents in our office: 

Vent covers at Daedalus prior to the installation of filters to prevent the spread of COVID19

If you’ve been to the office and not noticed these, you aren’t alone. Some of our most observant employees haven’t paid any attention to them either. But to be fair, we have nearly fourteen-foot-high ceilings, and our researchers are both barely over five feet. 

To improve our air filtering, our designers and engineers devised a way to add additional high-performance air filters to the system. They designed and built filter cages to replace the former vent covers. 

A ruler measuring space for the new vent covers.

In progress view of the installation of new new vent covers at Daedalus.

Installed, these cages protrude a couple of inches from the wall and are each capable of holding four 20-inch square by 2-inch thick MERV 14-rated filters that will help to better clean our air. Along the length of the hallway, there are now four of these cages installed allowing plenty of filtered air to pass through. 

Up close view of the new vent covers, with air filters in place to help stop the COVID spread.

There was also a surprising amount of unfiltered air leaking into the intake plenum from around the recessed light fixtures. We’ve sealed these as well so that the only air entering the plenum and HVAC system is filtered.

For the time being, we’ve also rearranged our workspace so that everyone can work at least six feet apart.

Once we’ve ridden out this storm, let’s hope that another pandemic of this scale never happens again—at least not for another century. But the changes that we’ve made should also help everyone at Daedalus to avoid the seasonal colds and flu that sweep through Pittsburgh every fall and winter, allowing us to keep ourselves, our families, and visitors to Daedalus healthy and well. 

Stay safe out there. 

* According to “The Horseless Age, Volume 27” and “The Motor World, volume 26,” the Daedalus office was originally built as the sales floor and repair facility for the West Penn Automobile Company, when they acquired the rights to sell the Bergdoll “30” around 1911. Soon after, they would also sell Detroit Electric vehicles from the same sales floor. 

A 1911 Bergdoll advertisement indicating the original use of the Daedalus building as a sales floor.