Multi-Week Series on Joseph Allen’s “Five Fundamental Laying the Foundation for the Healthy Buildings Era: Fundamental Shift #2, Ventilation Standards

A vector image showing a mixed race classroom being ventilated

Resuming our multi-week series, the second major shift in Joseph Allen’s “Five Fundamental Shifts Laying the Foundation for the Healthy Buildings Era” is in ventilation policy. This defines how much fresh air to bring into a building. On ASHRAE’s 62.1-2022 standard “Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality”, Dr. Allen argues, “’Acceptable’ should not be acceptable to any of us”.

Historical Context

A hundred years ago, ventilation rates were set to reduce the spread of disease by air.  Early building codes required a minimum of 30 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per person. Over time, regulators lowered the standards and reduced air exchange to save energy. This has had big impacts, some of which the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting super-spreader events exposed.

Using the science that Dr. Allen lays out in “Healthy Buildings,” our minimum viable product AirLens has always provided at least 30 cfm/person.

The Lancet Commission’s New Standards

In 2022, the Lancet COVID-19 Commission agreed. They found that current ventilation targets were too low and that increasing them could lead to major public health gains. The commission proposed three new metrics, labeled “Good,” “Better,” and “Best,” with the “Best” standard, which matches the historical 30 cfm/person guideline.

As a result of the Biden Administration’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID, the White House held a summit that engaged key agencies the guide IAQ standards. Both ASHRAE and the US CDC have adopted these standards. And new funding is now available through the Inflation Reduction Act and other funding streams to improve air quality across the county. This has really changed the conversation and how top news agencies are reporting on the topic.

COVID changed the way we live and work. How many people are in a building and when they are there is harder than ever to predict. To reduce energy use, we can’t ventilate based on a guess. BuildingLens uses occupancy sensors and adjusts ventilation rates automatically to achieve healthy and efficient buildings.

Science Based Technology for the People

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We invite you to book an appointment with CEO David Burchfield and find out how our expertise can help you meet the latest standards. People in your buildings will thank you for it.


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