Healthy Air Episode #19

Episode #19

Adapting IAQ to Epidemic Disease is Resilience | Dr. Bill Bahnfleth

In this episode, Dr. Bill Bahnfleth talks about the lessons learned from anthrax, which can also apply to COVID. Being the chair of the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force, he shares ASHRAE’s vision for IAQ through allied fields and the rapid response of their Epidemic Task Force. He also discusses how ASHRAE Standard 62.1 does not cover infection control and suggests that it could take on a change to address infectious diseases. 

Dr. Bill Bahnfleth is a professor in the Department of Architectural Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. He holds a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois and is a registered professional engineer. He is a Fellow of ASHRAE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the International Society for Indoor Air Quality and Climate, and is the author and co-author of more than 170 journal articles and 14 books/book chapters. He has served ASHRAE in a variety of capacities such as, Student Branch Advisor, Vice President, Treasurer, 2013-14 Society President, and is currently the chair of the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force. His ASHRAE awards include the Exceptional Service Award, the Louise and Bill Holladay Distinguished Fellow Award, the E.K. Campbell Award of Merit for teaching, and the F. Paul Anderson Award–ASHRAE’s highest individual award.

Keeping air safe has never been more important. Now that we are in the next normal, it is critical that the air we breathe in shared indoor spaces is healthy and safe for continued occupancy. Are we ready to face this challenge and mitigate airborne exposure risk indoors? Welcome to Healthy Air, a podcast that talks about the future of buildings and how to keep air safe and healthy. Keep up with the latest industry trends, latest technologies, and regulatory changes with your host, Erik Malmstrom, industry experts, and the SafeTraces team here on Healthy Air.

SHOW NOTES:

  • An overview of Dr. Bahnfleth’s background [1:10]
  • Lessons learned from anthrax can apply to COVID [6:59]
  • ASHRAE’s Epidemic Task Force and rapid response [11:55]
  • How the task force is being adaptive to the changing conditions on the ground [18:20]
  • Risk management across disciplinary lines [24:15]
  • Debates on what constitutes safe from COVID-19 for a building or facility [26:18]
  • ASHRAE Standard 62.1 does not cover infection control [27:53]
  • A paradigm shift to reduce risk of disease [33:44]
  • Awareness of airborne disease and the importance of ventilation [37:58]
  • A bad time, but good can come [50:17]

RESOURCES:

QUOTES:

We can and must design HVAC systems to be effective at controlling IAQ hazards, whether chemical, particulate or biological, while also being energy-efficient and cost-effective.”

“I was brought up believing that professional service was part of being a professional, working together in a non-competitive way to address society’s issues and better humanity.”

“ASHRAE’s Epidemic Task Force is comprised of over 130 people plus liaisons from other organizations. We managed to produce about 400 pages of guidance in a matter of a few months.”

“Having a risk management plan is not the same as putting together an interdisciplinary team, interacting with them, understanding varied points of view, and coming up with solutions.”

“ASHRAE Standard 62.1 has a definition of IAQ from building and occupant-generated contaminants, not the level of control required to reduce the risk of an airborne infectious disease.”

“The ASHRAE strategic plan is emphasizing indoor environmental quality and resilience. I see the ability for a building to adapt IAQ control in an epidemic disease as resilience.”

“We need coordination between standards like 90.1 and 62.1 to support IAQ, health and productivity, without damaging our efforts to decarbonize and to get to net-zero for buildings.”

“We need a paradigm shift in building ventilation systems. We’ve developed a high tolerance for getting sick in buildings and a tendency to act like there’s nothing we can do about it.”

“It’s a bad time we’re going through, but it’s had some good consequences like bringing people together, stimulating scientific and technical inquiry. Let’s come out better for it.”

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