In a groundbreaking development for building health and indoor air quality, ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) has announced the approval of Standard 241. This standard aims to mitigate airborne infection risks and promote healthier indoor air, which is a major step forward in protecting the health of building occupants. Here are a few ways this new recommendation might affect you:

1. Introduces Risk Management Mode

Standard 241 introduces the concept of Infection Risk Management Mode (IRMM), which would apply during identified periods of heightened risk of disease transmission. Authorities can determine when to implement this IRMM during things like COVID-19 outbreaks, while owners/operators also have the discretion to implement them during influenza seasons or other times of increased vulnerability. After seeing tough seasons of flu, Covid, allergies, and general Sick Building Syndrome, this aspect of Standard 241 could mean a dramatic decrease in occupant illnesses year-round.

2. Emphasizes Equivalent Clean Airflow Rate

In addition to managing risks surrounding bacteria, dust, and other volatile organic compounds, Standard 241 emphasizes an equivalent clean airflow rate, meaning the flow rate of pathogen-free air into occupied areas must be up to the same level as outdoor air, filtration, and air disinfection. This flexibility allows users to select the most suitable combination of technologies that align with their economic constraints and energy goals.

3. Provides Filtration & Air Cleaning Requirements

Diluting indoor air contaminants with outdoor air can be energy-intensive and expensive. Standard 241 addresses this concern by providing extensive requirements for the use of filtration and air-cleaning technologies. By employing these techniques, the standard ensures that equivalent clean airflow requirements are met efficiently and cost-effectively. It includes testing requirements to establish performance and prevent degradation of indoor air quality due to factors such as elevated CO2 levels.

Of course, the key to implementing Standard 241 is ensuring that buildings are properly equipped to handle this kind of air quality management. Certain types of technology can help meet this standard without affecting a building’s overall energy usage, and in fact some tech can save energy while cleaning indoor air. Standard 241 emphasizes thorough assessment, planning, and commissioning of building systems. It encourages the development of a building readiness plan, which prepares buildings to respond effectively to infectious disease risks. 

The approval for this standard represents a significant leap forward in prioritizing indoor air quality and fostering healthier indoor environments, putting occupant health as a top priority for building owners. By implementing the requirements outlined in this standard, building owners, operators, and professionals can proactively safeguard indoor environments, protect occupants, and promote sustainable practices.