The Kingdom has implemented several precautionary measures at Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah in the wake of COVID-19, with a temporary hold on prayers and Umrah inside the Grand Mosque to ensure the safety of worshippers.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque had initially closed Al-Haram for 48 hours in order to sanitize the premises.
Al-Salem Johnson Controls (YORK), a provider of integrated solutions that incorporate HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment, fire and security systems, building management systems and controls, has played a significant role in this 48-hour sanitization procedure, the company said.
All YORK chillers and air handling units (AHUs) inside the Grand Mosque were shut down for 48 hours, in order to raise the temperature inside the premises to around 30-32 degrees Celsius, which was required for the sanitization exercise. Simultaneously, the AHUs were inspected, and the filters, ducts, drain pans and cooling coils were cleaned and disinfected, to ensure the supply of high quality air throughout the Grand Mosque.
After the sanitization, and due to the reduced load inside the Grand Mosque these days, only 10 percent of the total cooling capacity was turned back on — sufficient to maintain a comfort zone for the few people inside Al-Haram and enough to achieve the right moisture level.
The total cooling capacity of the HVAC system at the Great Mosque in normal days is 159,000 TR (equivalent to the cooling of 15,000 medium-sized apartments). This is provided through an integrated HVAC system, which consists of two chiller plants located in Al-Shamiyah and Ajyad, connected to the AHUs inside the Grand Mosque.
The chiller plant at Al-Shamiyah is considered to be the second largest in the world, housing specially designed YORK OM chillers, with motors the size of a regular car.
YORK has allocated 135 service technicians for the Grand Mosque’s HVAC system, who are working around-the-clock at the Al-Shamiyah and Ajyad cooling plants.
YORK’s maintenance for chillers that are in a non-operating mode includes frequent checkups, monitoring of refrigerant and water pressure inside the chillers to preserve the outer body of the equipment from moisture attacks and corrosion, monitoring of motor rotations and oiling, as well as the alignment of the chiller’s motor and compressor.
The YORK AHUs supply 100 percent fresh air, by containing contaminated air and exhausting it to the outdoors, and then replacing it with well-treated fresh air, which re-enters the space after a rigorous filtration process. The AHUs are equipped with filters that do not allow the passage of big particles to the air-conditioned environment, through multiple stages of filtration that can achieve up to 95 percent filtration efficiency.
According to YORK, long before the COVID-19 outbreak, the company had equipped the Two Holy Mosques with a specialized and tailor-made HVAC system, which takes into account the crowded nature of both locations, particularly in peak seasons such as Hajj and Umrah, as well as during prayer times.
Dr. Mohanad Al-Shaikh, CEO of Al-Salem Johnson Controls, expressed appreciation for the great efforts made by the Kingdom in the development of the Two Holy Mosques. He also lauded the precautionary measures taken by the government amid COVID-19, to ensure the safety of the guests of Allah, as well as that of the citizens and residents of the Kingdom.