Reopening Restaurants: How safe is it to dine-in again?

A SyracuseCoE Research & Technology Forum and Panel Discussion

PODCAST

What should restaurant-goers take into consideration before reserving that table?
What can restaurateurs do to make indoor dining safer?  

Approximately one year ago, the coronavirus pandemic shut down some of our favorite places to go – bars and restaurants. Frustrated and desperate, restaurateurs have been agile by innovatively reworking their business models, where possible, just to stay open. Take-out, outdoor dining and ghost kitchens helped keep restaurants afloat, but most state and local guidance does not allow 100% occupancy yet.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. With vaccines rolling out and community transmission rates slowly descending, many are anxiously pondering – how safe is it to go out to eat now? 

Listen to a round table discussion with three experts: a buildings expert, a restaurateur and a public health expert who bring perspective and clarity to this complex question. The conversation highlights the factors that contribute to a safer restaurant reopening and dining out experience. Audience members ask the expert panel intriguing questions during the Q&A session. 

Charles Bertuch, P.E., Principal, Bergmann Architects, Engineers and Planners
Bertuch has more than 30 years of professional experience as a consultant and plant engineer. He is currently Principal – Energy Solutions for Bergmann Associates in Syracuse, NY. He holds an M.S degree in Mechanical Engineering from Syracuse University. Visit Bergmann’s website.

Caitlin Gambee, Co-Owner, The Brewster Inn, Cazenovia, NY
Gambee focuses on many of the important non-culinary aspects of running an award-winning restaurant and inn. She does the day-to-day bookkeeping as well as managing front desk / concierge staff, overseeing the hotel, managing the marina and all of the consumer-facing communications including website, social media, email blasts, etc. Her background is in marketing and events and she previously ran public relations and community relations campaigns for clients including the Boston Celtics, Dunkin’ Donuts and Converse. Visit The Brewster’s website.

Lisa Letteney, P.E., Director, Division of Environmental Health, Onondaga County Health Department, Syracuse, NY
Letteney is currently the Director of Environmental Health for the Onondaga County Health Department and has been with the department for over 33 years. She holds an M.S. degree in Chemical Engineering and is a NYS licensed P.E. (Professional Engineer). In her Director’s position, she oversees the following programs: Food Protection (Restaurant Inspections), Temporary Residences and Recreational Facilities (Hotel/Motels, swimming pools, beaches, camps), Environmental Lead, Public Water Supply, Septic Systems, Mosquito Control, Rabies, and Tanning. Visit Onondaga County Health Department’s website.

Eric A. Schiff, Ph.D., Interim Executive Director, SyracuseCoE and Professor of Physics, Syracuse University

As SyracuseCoE director for the last year, Eric Schiff has been working on ways to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the community. He has many years of experience as a physics professor, a semiconductor and solar cell researcher, a university and government administrator, and an industry consultant. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Visit Schiff’s SyracuseCoE Leadership webpage.

Trends from Wastewater Testing: Pharmaceutical and Illicit Drug Use are Higher in Places where COVID-19 is More Prevalent

Reported by Kerrie Marshall, Arik Palileo, Eric A. Schiff, and Teng Zeng

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Summary:

Wastewater testing is increasingly used worldwide to monitor trends in pharmaceutical and illicit drug use. Between April and July of 2020, wastewater samples from six sewer systems in Onondaga County, NY were tested to assess pharmaceutical and illicit drug use patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study found that samples from sewersheds showing greater pharmaceutical and illicit drug use also contained more SARS-CoV-2 RNA – the genetic material found in the coronavirus. Testing identified higher levels of 26 pharmaceuticals, including medications for depression, epilepsy, allergies, and high blood pressure, as well as illicit drugs like opioids, cocaine, and amphetamines. For example, Figure 1 illustrates greater blood pressure medication consumption (left panel) and greater opioid consumption (right panel) in locations with wastewater samples containing coronavirus RNA. For all six substance groups (antidepressants, antiepileptics, antihistamines, antihypertensives, synthetic opioids, and central nervous system stimulants), the sewersheds with the lowest consumption rates had an average COVID-19 positivity rate of 1.5% – 2.5%, while the sewershed with highest consumption rates had a COVID-19 positively rate of 4%. This study demonstrates the need to establish regional and national wastewater testing initiatives to monitor COVID-19 spread and its implications for prescription and illicit drug use.

References:

High-throughput wastewater analysis for substance use assessment in central New York during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020.

About the Authors

Kerrie Marshall (klmarsha@syr.edu) is the Assistant Director of Communications at SyracuseCoE, the SU Center of Excellence in Environmental & Energy Systems. Arik Palileo (apalileo@syr.edu) is a SyracuseCoE Communications Intern. Eric Schiff (easchiff@syr.edu) is the Interim Executive Director of SyracuseCoE. Teng Zeng (tezeng@syr.edu) is Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at SU, a SyracuseCoE Faculty Fellow and the lead author on this study.

Faculty Fellow Bing Dong to Chair Seminar at the 2021 ASHRAE Virtual Winter Conference

SyracuseCoE researcher Bing Dong will be chairing a seminar called “The Impact of COVID-19 on Building Energy Consumption, IAQ and Occupant Behavior” at the 2021 ASHRAE Virtual Winter Conference, taking place February 9th – 11th. Bing Dong is a Faculty Fellow researching smart building controls in the Total Indoor Environmental Quality (TIEQ) Lab and is also an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed occupant schedules and behavior, impacts building energy consumption and indoor air quality. Understanding such effects is crucial for ensuring building performance and operations while also providing healthy and productive living and working environments. This seminar will provide an overview of such impacts from the following perspectives: (1) Social-psychological factors with the analysis of energy and indoor air quality in residential buildings, (2) how shelter-in-place orders affect energy use of office buildings, (3) indoor air quality at home, and (4) well-being at home.

Click here for more information or to register for the conference.

Air Purifiers & Airflows: Minimizing COVID-19 Risk in Classrooms

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How do we minimize COVID-19 infection risk when we return to school?

Students are heading back to classrooms. Undetected, there may be one who’s infected by COVID-19. Beyond masking, what are the options for teachers and administrators to minimize the spread of disease through the air?
 
Join us as we talk with Central New York experts about how air can be replaced or purified to help protect classmates and teachers.
 
When do portable air purifiers make a difference if a superspreader is in the room? How do I choose purifiers that will be effective and economical? Where should I place them?
 
How can I understand how air moves in my room? What are the possibilities for rearranging the flow to minimize the risk of disease transmission?

 

Confirmed speakers:

Vinny Lobdell, President, Healthway Family of Brands
 
Vinny Lobdell attended Oswego State for 4 years focusing on Marketing and Economics. Later, he continued on to receive an entrepreneurial masters in partnership with the Entrepreneurs Association at MIT. Lobdell took the leadership role at HealthWay in 2008 and soon thereafter, HealthWay was named to the Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies in America. In 2017, Lobdell co-founded Intellipure, a fast-growing B-to-C brand with a heavy emphasis on creating the best customer experience through handcrafted, individually certified air cleaning systems. Today, HealthWay Family of Brands is recognized as the global leading manufacturer of air cleaning solutions for almost any application. 
 
Over the past 12 years, Lobdell has traveled to 50 countries educating and speaking to industry leaders, governments, and medical professionals on air pollution and the harmful effects that come along with occupying our built environments. In the last 6 months, HealthWay Family of Brands has been called on by NYC Health and Hospital, Atlantic Health Systems, The U.A.E. Ministry of health and hundreds of corporate clients to assist in getting people back to work. Several of these clients represent some of the largest and most sophisticated companies in the world. Healthway remains committed to the Central New York Community and has hired an additional 50 people and added 20,000 square feet of additional manufacturing space in Pulaski NY. 
 
 
Photo of Jianshun ZhangJianshun “Jensen” Zhang, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University and Visiting Professor, School of Architecture and Urban Planning at Nanjing University, China, SyracuseCoE Faculty Fellow
 
Jensen Zhang is Professor and Director of Building Energy and Environmental Systems Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University (SU), New York, USA, and a Visiting Professor and Chief Researcher of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at Nanjing University, China. He received his Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and worked at National Research Council of Canada for 8 years before he joined SU.
 
Zhang is a co-leader of the SU-wide research cluster in Energy and Environment that promotes and coordinates multi-disciplinary research on the campus. He is an expert in room air and contaminant distribution, material emissions, air purification, building enclosure performance, and combined heat, air, moisture and pollutant simulations (CHAMPS) for integrative design and intelligent controls of buildings. He has authored/co-authored over 200 technical papers and 3 American national standards. He is Associate Editor of Journal of Science and Technology for the Built Environment (STBE, formerly ASHRAE HVAC&R Research Journal) and The International Journal of Ventilation, and serves as a Member of the Editorial Boards of Building Simulations—an international Journal, International Journal of High-Rise Buildings, and the International Journal of Architectural Frontier Research. He is Fellow of ISIAQ and ASHRAE, and current Chairman of the International Association of Building Physics. 
 
Moderator:
 
Eric A. Schiff, Ph.D., Interim Executive Director, SyracuseCoE and Professor of Physics, Syracuse University
 
Eric Schiff has a long history of leading complex research projects that bring together academics, industry scientists and other partners to discover solutions to society’s energy-related problems. He has been a professor of physics at Syracuse University since 1981, leading interdisciplinary research groups and collaborating with laboratories from other universities and private organizations throughout the world. He has been a principal investigator for externally funded research projects from government agencies (Department of Energy, National Science Foundation and the Empire State Development Corp.) and corporations (United Solar Ovonic LLC, Boeing Inc., First Solar Inc., and SRC Inc.). During his time at Syracuse, he has spent half-year sabbaticals at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and at Innovalight, Inc., a startup company. From 2014-1017, he served concurrently as a program director at ARPA-E, an agency of the Department of Energy. There he initiated the SHIELD research program of a dozen research projects seeking inexpensive efficiency retrofits for legacy single-pane windows. He also supervised a portfolio of additional projects on solar energy conversion and other energy technologies.
 
Schiff’s own research accomplishments include development of low-mobility solar cell device physics for thin-film solar cells such as perovskites, amorphous silicon, and cadmium telluride. His fundamental physics contributions include work on electronic transport and defects in semiconductors as well as on plasmonics. He is co-author of more than 100 refereed research publications with more than 4,000 citations and he is co-inventor on three U.S. patents. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
 

Podcast: Experts Agree on Aerosol Transmission of COVID-19: How Can Schools Manage Indoor Air to Stop the Spread?

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

View our other Research & Technology Forums and Podcasts


Panelist Dr. Jensen Zhang is an associate editor of the professional ASHRAE journal, Science and Technology for the Built Environment. Read his recently published editorial, Integrating IAQ control strategies to reduce the risk of asymptomatic SARS CoV-2 infections in classrooms and open plan offices.


A new school year is beginning soon. Understanding the ventilation and air quality of indoor spaces is critically important. From improved ventilation modifications, to HVAC and air filtration, to physical modification of spaces, this podcast discusses the current knowledge of how to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in indoor environments.

With strong recommendations from 239 scientists from 32 countries, including faculty from Syracuse University, the World Health Organization is now acknowledging the evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through aerosol droplets. Viral particles become airborne when people sneeze, cough, sing, talk or breath.

As students return to campuses and classrooms, how can faculty, teachers and building managers optimize ventilation and filtration strategies to help keep students and faculty healthy?

Panelists:

Cliff I. Davidson, Thomas C. and Colleen L. Wilmot Professor of Engineering, Environmental Engineering Program Director of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Syracuse University

Cliff Davidson is the Thomas and Colleen Wilmot Professor of Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. He also serves as Director of Environmental Engineering Programs, and Director of the Center for Sustainable Engineering. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering Science from California Institute of Technology. Following his PhD, he joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty where he stayed for 33 years in the Department of Civil Engineering (currently Civil and Environmental Engineering) and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy. He moved to Syracuse University in 2010.

Davidson’s research background is in the area of air quality, especially aerosol interaction with surfaces, including surfaces of fibers in a face mask or filter. He has also worked on environmental sustainability in other areas, such as the design of sustainable cities, the effectiveness of green roofs in reducing urban stormwater runoff, educational innovations for teaching sustainable engineering, and identifying the preferences of individuals and organizations for strategies to adapt to climate change. He has published over 130 papers in refereed journals and another 100 papers in peer-reviewed conference proceedings and book chapters. He has served on the editorial boards of four scientific journals, and is a Fellow in three national organizations, including the American Association for Aerosol Research, where he also served as President. He has recently been chosen as the 2021-2022 Distinguished Lecturer by the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors.

Jianshun “Jensen” Zhang, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University and Visiting Professor, School of Architecture and Urban Planning at Nanjing University, China

Jianshun “Jensen” Zhang is Professor and Director of Building Energy and Environmental Systems Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University (SU), New York, USA, and a Visiting Professor and Chief Researcher of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at Nanjing University, China. He received his Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and worked at National Research Council of Canada for 8 years before he joined SU.

Dr. Zhang is a co-leader of the SU-wide research cluster in Energy and Environment that promotes and coordinates multi-disciplinary research on the campus. He is an expert in room air and contaminant distribution, material emissions, air purification, building enclosure performance, and combined heat, air, moisture and pollutant simulations (CHAMPS) for integrative design and intelligent controls of buildings. He has authored/co-authored over 200 technical papers and 3 American national standards. He is Associate Editor of Journal of Science and Technology for the Built Environment (STBE, formerly ASHRAE HVAC&R Research Journal) and The International Journal of Ventilation, and serves as a Member of the Editorial Boards of Building Simulations—an international Journal, International Journal of High-Rise Buildings, and the International Journal of Architectural Frontier Research. He is Fellow of ISIAQ and ASHRAE, and current Chairman of the International Association of Building Physics. 

Mike Wetzel, PE, President & CEO, Air Innovations

Michael Wetzel is President and CEO of Air Innovations, a SyracuseCoE Partner firm that specializes in the design and manufacture of environmental control systems. Wetzel is a graduate of Clarkson University where he received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering. He is a licensed Professional Engineer and is the holder of seven US patents.

Prior to Air Innovations, Wetzel was based in Strasbourg, France for four years working for a multinational company building cleanrooms in Europe and the Mideast. Previously he worked stateside as an engineering manager in the HVAC construction industry.

Experts Agree on Aerosol Transmission of COVID-19: How Can Schools Manage Indoor Air to Stop the Spread? A SyracuseCoE Research & Technology Forum

A new school year is beginning soon. Understanding the ventilation and air quality of indoor spaces is critically important.

With strong recommendations from 239 scientists from 32 countries, including faculty from Syracuse University, the World Health Organization is now acknowledging the evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through aerosol droplets. Viral particles become airborne when people sneeze, cough, sing, talk or breath.

As students return to campuses and classrooms, how can faculty, teachers and building managers optimize ventilation and filtration strategies to help keep students and faculty healthy? From improved ventilation modifications, to HVAC and air filtration, to physical modification of spaces, we will be discussing the current knowledge of how to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in indoor environments.

Confirmed speakers include:

Cliff I. Davidson, Thomas C. and Colleen L. Wilmot Professor of Engineering, Environmental Engineering Program Director of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Syracuse University

Cliff Davidson is the Thomas and Colleen Wilmot Professor of Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. He also serves as Director of Environmental Engineering Programs, and Director of the Center for Sustainable Engineering. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering Science from California Institute of Technology. Following his PhD, he joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty where he stayed for 33 years in the Department of Civil Engineering (currently Civil and Environmental Engineering) and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy. He moved to Syracuse University in 2010.

Davidson’s research background is in the area of air quality, especially aerosol interaction with surfaces, including surfaces of fibers in a face mask or filter. He has also worked on environmental sustainability in other areas, such as the design of sustainable cities, the effectiveness of green roofs in reducing urban stormwater runoff, educational innovations for teaching sustainable engineering, and identifying the preferences of individuals and organizations for strategies to adapt to climate change. He has published over 130 papers in refereed journals and another 100 papers in peer-reviewed conference proceedings and book chapters. He has served on the editorial boards of four scientific journals, and is a Fellow in three national organizations. He has recently been chosen as the 2021-2022 Distinguished Lecturer by the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors.

Jianshun “Jensen” Zhang, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University and Visiting Professor, School of Architecture and Urban Planning at Nanjing University, China

Dr. Jianshun “Jensen” Zhang is Professor and Director of Building Energy and Environmental Systems Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University (SU), New York, USA, and a Visiting Professor and Chief Researcher of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at Nanjing University, China. He received his Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and worked at National Research Council of Canada for 8 years before he joined SU.

Dr. Zhang is a co-leader of the SU-wide research cluster in Energy and Environment that promotes and coordinates multi-disciplinary research on the campus. He is an expert in room air and contaminant distribution, material emissions, air purification, building enclosure performance, and combined heat, air, moisture and pollutant simulations (CHAMPS) for integrative design and intelligent controls of buildings. He has authored/co-authored over 200 technical papers and 3 American national standards. He is Associate Editor of Journal of Science and Technology for the Built Environment (STBE, formerly ASHRAE HVAC&R Research Journal) and The International Journal of Ventilation, and serves as a Member of the Editorial Boards of Building Simulations—an international Journal, International Journal of High-Rise Buildings, and the International Journal of Architectural Frontier Research. He is Fellow of ISIAQ and ASHRAE, and current Chairman of the International Association of Building Physics.

Mike Wetzel, PE, President & CEO, Air Innovations

Michael Wetzel is President and CEO of Air Innovations, a SyracuseCoE Partner firm that specializes in the design and manufacture of environmental control systems. Wetzel is a graduate of Clarkson University where he received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering. He is a licensed Professional Engineer and is the holder of seven US patents.

Prior to Air Innovations, Wetzel was based in Strasbourg, France for four years working for a multinational company building cleanrooms in Europe and the Mideast. Previously he worked stateside as an engineering manager in the HVAC construction industry.

Brendan Hall, PE, BEMP, LEED AP

Brendan Hall is a Senior Engineer and General Mechanical Section Manager with CHA Consulting in Syracuse, NY. Brendan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University. He is currently serving as technical expert in CHA’s indoor air quality task force.

Brendan has ten years of mechanical engineering and project management experience, leading the design, layout and control of HVAC systems for P-12 and higher educational facilities throughout New York, New Jersey and Ohio, including nine LEED certified projects. He has been an active member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) since 2011 and is currently the Government Affairs Chair for the Central New York chapter, as well as a member of ASHRAE Technical Committee 9.7 – Educational Facilities. He helped facilitate the recent memorandum of understanding between NYSERDA and ASHRAE to collaborate on COVID-19 response and energy efficiency efforts and has been helping to coordinate the dissemination of re-opening guidelines between ASHRAE and various levels of New York State governments and municipalities.

Moderated by:

Eric A. Schiff, Interim Executive Director, SyracuseCoE and Professor of Physics, Syracuse University

Dr. Schiff has a long history of leading complex research projects that bring together academics, industry scientists and other partners to discover solutions to society’s energy-related problems. He has been a professor of physics at Syracuse University since 1981, leading interdisciplinary research groups and collaborating with laboratories from other universities and private organizations throughout the world. He has been a principal investigator for externally funded research projects from government agencies (Department of Energy, National Science Foundation and the Empire State Development Corp.) and corporations (United Solar Ovonic LLC, Boeing Inc., First Solar Inc., and SRC Inc.). During his time at Syracuse, he has spent half-year sabbaticals at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and at Innovalight, Inc., a startup company. From 2014-1017, he served concurrently as a program director at ARPA-E, an agency of the Department of Energy. There he initiated the SHIELD research program of a dozen research projects for development of inexpensive efficiency retrofits for legacy single pane windows. He also supervised a portfolio of additional projects on solar energy conversion and other energy technologies.

Schiff’s own research accomplishments include development of low-mobility solar cell device physics for thin film solar cells such as perovskites, amorphous silicon, and cadmium telluride. His fundamental physics contributions include work on electronic transport and defects in semiconductors as well as on plasmonics. He is co-author of more than 100 refereed research publications with more than 4,000 citations and he is co-inventor on three U.S. patents. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.