- The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ released a draft for public review last week of its first-ever standard for mitigating the airborne spread of infectious pathogens in indoor spaces. Comments are requested by May 26.
- ASHRAE Standard 241P, Control of Infectious Aerosols, would address indoor air quality and establish minimum HVAC requirements for different occupancies, including residential, commercial, hospitality and healthcare spaces.
- The announcement comes a few days after the CDC offered guidance on building ventilation, recommending at least five air changes per hour of clean air in occupied spaces.
ASHRAE’s new proposed standard, combined with the CDC’s recent guidance on clean air circulation, show a growing list of health requirements and oversight that building operators need to contend with as the U.S. emerges from the pandemic.
Standard 241P, which aims to reduce infectious aerosols, includes requirements for equivalent outdoor air (combined effect of ventilation, filtration and air cleaning), room air distribution to reduce risk, characterization of filter and air cleaner effectiveness and safety, commissioning (including development and implementation of a Building Readiness Plan), and system operation in Infection Risk Mitigation Mode during periods of high risk.
It also outlines maintenance tasks and how frequently they should be performed, and provides separate requirements for residences and healthcare facilities.
“The entire world was touched by the effects of the pandemic and we learned that an effective way to protect ourselves from the spread of pathogens is to improve the indoor air quality and ventilation in the buildings that we occupy,” ASHRAE President Farooq Mehboob said in the release.
The draft standard follows ASHRAE’s announcement to prioritize and support expedited development of a national indoor air quality (IAQ) pathogen mitigation standard in December and the launch of the government’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in February 2021, which includes recommendations for improving ventilation and filtration in buildings.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also launched the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge last March, which urges building operators to assess ventilation and air cleaning systems, determine how much clean air is needed, and upgrade all central HVAC and in-room air cleaning devices to new MERV-13 air filters, among other recommendations.
The committee for ASHRAE’s Standard 241P is seeking comments on the normative portions of the standard by May 26. The standard is expected to receive final approval in June and to be published in July, ASHRAE said.