As was seen in the 1970s, ill-conceived approaches to increase energy efficiency can degrade indoor air quality (IAQ), and today's focus on net zero energy buildings must neither repeat the mistakes of the past nor create new ones. Many discussions of sustainable building focus primarily on energy use, but the quality of the indoor environment and its impact on occupant health, satisfaction and performance also must be considered for any building to be a sustainable contribution to the built environment over the long term.
IAQ has traditionally been addressed through minimum ventilation requirements in building codes, which have been based on industry consensus standards such as ASHRAE Standard 62.1. While this approach has helped to improve IAQ in buildings, good IAQ requires more than just the minimum ventilation rates.
Over the years many important contributions have been made directed toward improving IAQ in buildings, including Standard 62.1 and other publications. (1,2) In addition, ASHRAE, the International Society for Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ) and other organizations have held conferences that have advanced knowledge and practice related to IAQ. While these efforts have been valuable, the building community still lacked a comprehensive and practical resource on achieving good IAQ for the building professionals who design, construct and commission buildings. To meet this long-standing need, ASHRAE teamed with several key organizations* to develop the newly published Indoor Air Quality Guide: Best Practices for Design, Construction and Commissioning. This article presents a short summary of the guide, including its development, format and content.
Background on the Guide's Development
The initial idea for the IAQ Guide can be traced back to the development of Standard 62.1. The 62.1 committee was directed in 1997 to write the standard in mandatory and enforceable language to facilitate its adoption and reference by building codes. That direction implied that the standard would contain only minimum requirements. As a result, it could not contain a wide range of potentially useful material such as background information, case studies, or discussion of design approaches and technologies that could improve IAQ but which are not appropriate for minimum requirements for all buildings. The Standard 62.1 Project Committee proposed to provide that additional information through a companion guideline to the standard but the standard so fully consumed their time that they were unable to move the guideline forward quickly.
ASHRAE found a way to meet this need in 2006 for a comprehensive and practical IAQ resource. The Society entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop a guidance document and educational program to assist building professionals in designing and constructing buildings with improved IAQ. Building on the positive experience with the Advanced Energy Design Guides, ASHRAE sought to bring other key organizations in the building community into the IAQ effort, and developed collaborative agreements with the American Institute of Architects, BOMA International, Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors' National Association, and the U.S. Green Building Council in addition to...
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