It’s officially springtime in my home state of Michigan! While I’m happy to see the cold and snow gone, this time of year is the worst for my seasonal allergies. Watery eyes, runny nose, constant sneezing — the whole nine yards. Ever since the pandemic, people give me the side eye and avoid me like the plague this time of year. I’m actually looking into getting a whole-home air purifier installed in my HVAC system.

A lot has changed in three years. More and more people are aware of the importance of ventilation and indoor air quality after the hyper-focus placed on health and hygiene post-pandemic. The CDC and ASHRAE have both announced the development of new IAQ standards for pathogen mitigation. But what happens when the call for increased ventilation by bringing in more outdoor air directly conflicts with the other things our industry is hyper-focused on — like sustainability and decarbonization?

I recently came across an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review tackling this very topic. The author, Joseph G. Allen, associate professor and director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explains that healthy buildings and green buildings don’t have to be in conflict. After going into detail why both healthy buildings and green buildings are necessary, he goes on to suggest ways to achieve both, including maximizing outdoor air, commissioning the building or giving it a “tune up,” upgrading filters, adopting an IAQ monitoring network, using energy efficient systems and more. The article (linked above) is definitely worth a read.

“Beyond the strategies already mentioned, there are others like exploring energy storage for peak-shaving (The Bank of America Tower at 1 Bryant Park in New York City uses a giant ice cube in the basement as a thermal battery!), using phase-change materials, and doing the basics like adding solar panels,” Allen writes. “The big picture is that there are a lot of existing technologies on the market, ready to go. Just as it isn’t acceptable to have a green building where people get sick inside, it doesn’t make sense to have a building with good indoor air quality that nevertheless damages our health by contributing to outdoor air pollution. We can and must have both.”


This month’s issue also happens to tackle the importance of IAQ in schools. Thanks to ESSER legislation and funding, schools have the chance to upgrade their aging HVAC systems to help improve indoor air quality for students and staff. They need all the help they can get. According to a study from the LANCET COVID-19 Commission, 87 of 100 classrooms had ventilation rates below recommended minimum standards, suggesting that nearly nine of every 10 classrooms lack sufficient healthy air. UV Resources’ Daniel Jones and Joe Kalman tackle this topic, offering tips to engineers on how to design systems to promote clean, healthy air.

What about you, readers? What type of IAQ projects are you seeing or working on? How are you handling the need to balance increased ventilation while also reducing energy usage? I want to hear about it. Please reach out to me at