Individual Rights, Equity and the Indoor Air Quality Act

A image of a calculator with the word "REGULATIONS" where numbers would be is surrounded by the edge of a binder, some pens, a plant, and a table with different dollars amounts in each cell.

A glimpse into the future of building management

The ever-growing concern about indoor air quality (IAQ) and its impact on public health has paved the way for more strict standards. A prime example is the Model State Indoor Air Quality Act proposed by The John Hopkins Center for Health Security. At its core, this Act is more than just a way to regulate IAQ; it is a robust response that asserts individual rights, equity, and the key role building managers play to promote public health.Air quality indoors is starting to be perceived as a right. People who enter a public building should feel safe breathing the air. This Act does not just impose standards on building owners; it empowers building occupants.  It defines what a “building” is and ensures that the code applies to most public spaces. It offers transparency through public postings of IAQ test results, empowering people with information. 

The Act tends to equity in a few ways. Not all buildings are the same, and their IAQ risks might differ. Mindful of this, the Act: 

  • Classifies buildings based on IAQ risks. It allows for distinct approaches to varied building types. 
  • Provides building owners with incentives to manage IAQ in proactive ways. From tax benefits to expedited reviews, owners are encouraged to prioritize IAQ. 

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A key, yet under-discussed, aspect of maintaining great IAQ is the role of building management systems, particularly HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) systems. When we look closely at the Act, we find a few areas where automated building management of HVAC systems could provide immense support: 

  • Regular Monitoring: Automated HVAC systems can continuously check air quality. This ensures pollutants stay at healthy levels. Given the Act’s focus on building assessments and testing, automation offers steady, round-the-clock data. 
  • Prompt Response: In case of an “IAQ event,” modern HVAC systems can be programmed to respond right away. They may increase ventilation, turn on air purifiers, or alert building staff. 
  • Compliance Simplified: For building owners, staying compliant with the Act’s provisions might be a daunting task. Automated systems can keep air clean and record and track air quality metrics. These are needed for inspections and verification.  
  • Cost Savings: Automated systems reduce the need for frequent manual testing and interventions. Tax deductions are proposed to help building owners keep the cost of compliance low. 

The proposed Indoor Air Quality Act is a beacon of hope in the push for healthier indoor spaces. While it sets stringent standards and expectations, it also supplies tools and incentives to ensure building owners can meet them without undue burden. Moreover, by emphasizing individual rights and equity, the Act presents a meaningful approach to IAQ management, one where everyone, regardless of where or who they are, has the right to clean, pure air. 

Incorporating advanced HVAC and building management systems can streamline the process for building owners. It bridges the gap between regulatory compliance and operational feasibility. As states consider adopting such measures, there is a clear path forward where technology and regulation converge for the greater public good. 



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