How will those in the HVAC industry adjust and contribute by preparing and planning for a safer environment that extends beyond leadership in energy and environment design.

Last month, I discussed ASHRAE’s initiative to address building resilience and HVAC security. ASHRAE Technical Committee (TC) 2.10, “Resilience and Security,” is taking the lead on this topic from a TC point of view, but there are many tentacles to this very important topic. TCs within Section 1.0, “Fundamentals and General,” and Section 2.0, “Environmental Quality,” have some influence on resiliency, whether in the design phase of a project, the operation, maintenance, and/or recovery after an incident. They’re also key cogs in the continual improvement of the building environment.

In partnership with Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), ASHRAE produced a “position document on resiliency in the built environment.” The document quotes the National Academy of Sciences report “Disaster Resilience” as “the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events or threats.” These events or threats may be financial, political, or environmental as well as disaster, conflict, or climate related.

So, why am I continuing to discuss this in a second monthly column? Well, designers, construction personnel, operators, building management, and building owners need to get up to speed with this topic going forward. In the past, the success of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) slowly but progressively grew into awareness, application, and certification. Resiliency will progressively become a commissioning design intent document that building owners are going to request to be included in their building programs, whether it is a renovation, addition, or new construction.
While past concerns raised the awareness to ASHRAE and CIBSE that resulted in the producing of their joint position document, I believe the COVID-19 pandemic solidified why we in the building industry need to become as proficient as possible on this topic, and, maybe someday, we’ll see certification in a specific category of resiliency. COVID-19 occurred and spread not only across the U.S. but worldwide, and it really hasn’t gone away nor do we expect it to go away anytime soon. The impact on buildings everywhere was an international shutdown of the majority of facilities. As the pandemic subsided a little, the world was anxious to begin to open up all these diverse categories of buildings. 

That said, there were no time-tested, standardized methods to safely open these facilities to its occupants nor were there sufficient guidelines to maintain a safe environment within the building and with the individuals who would come and go from these facilities. In the coming years, readers will learn more about resiliency as practitioners, professionals, and others contribute to building resiliency for existing structures and future structures. Integral to continued success will be how those in the HVAC industry adjust and contribute by preparing and planning for a safer environment that extends beyond “leadership in energy and environment design.” 

For more on this topic, please read Scott Campbell, Ph. D, P.E.’s, monthly column now in Engineered Systems magazine.