ASHRAE’s board of directors announced its commitment to support the expedited development of a national indoor air quality (IAQ) pathogen mitigation standard. The goal is to finalize the consensus-based, code-enforceable standard within six months.

“The health and well-being of building occupants are crucial factors that must be considered during the design, construction and operation phases of the building process,” said 2022-23 ASHRAE President Farooq Mehboob, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE. “ASHRAE’s long history of leadership in IAQ science and technology, will provide broad-reaching guidance through this standard to help ensure the use of best practices for pathogen mitigation, which will assist in creating safer indoor spaces for us all.”

ASHRAE will set up a balanced team of internationally recognized experts to work on an accelerated timeline to develop the standard. Delivery of the standard will include:

  • Both design and operation;
  • Alternative paths (prescriptive or performance), in which equivalent clean air would be the goal; and
  • Testing, verification, documentation (commissioning) and periodic re-commissioning.

The increased focus on IAQ by governments and the public, along with the convergence of the flu, respiratory syncytial (RSV) and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) threatening public health, makes ASHRAE’s development of the pathogen mitigation standard of even greater importance, as jurisdictions and building owners look to a reputable and non-biased source for guidance and science-based building standards. 

Airborne transmission of pathogens is of concern to the public writ-large and governments are responding. In March, the U.S. government launched the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, which included recommendations to improve ventilation and filtration in buildings. The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge was also launched this spring, along with a  Summit on Improving Indoor Air Quality in October.

The ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with the release of extensive guidance, including IAQ resources, referenced by governments, building owners and facility managers in the U.S. and internationally.