Hospitality is one of the largest and fastest growing industry sectors in the North American marketplace, providing a vast market for HVAC products and services. Hospitality is a complex and varied industry comprised of facilities, ranging from smaller venues such as bars, lounges, night clubs, restaurants, dinner theaters, bowling alleys, pool and billiard halls, bingo halls, and motels to large complexes housing casinos, hotels, and resorts.

The influential ASHRAE Standard 62-2001 "Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality" has provided engineering guidance for design and operation of occupied spaces intended for hospitality use since 1973. However, in recent years the ASHRAE committee responsible for continuous maintenance of this standard has failed to recognize the unique characteristics of IAQ issues faced by hospitality occupancies and has demonstrated little understanding of the specialized requirements of hospitality facilities.

This is little wonder since, until recently, the hospitality sector had no representation as voting members on the committee. Even now, of the 28 regular members of the committee, hospitality sector membership is limited to one casino facilities operator.

Recently, ASHRAE opened membership up to organizations that represent stakeholders in the hospitality industry. There are now five organizations with representation on the committee. However, even though numerous hospitality organizations have applied for membership (most notably the National Restaurant Association, which, along with their Canadian counterpart, represents nearly one million restaurant facilities throughout North America), only one organizational member has been appointed to the committee from the hospitality sector. That organizational member also represents only the gaming industry.

Of 39 total members of the ASHRAE committee responsible for Standard 62.1, there are currently only two representatives from the gaming sector, with virtually no representation from any other hospitality industry sector. The hospitality sector now represents one half of one percent of the committee.

Conversely, one third of the types of spaces covered within the scope of 62-2001 are in hospitality facilities. Thus, there still continues to be a vast discrepancy between the balance of the committee's membership and the scope of the types of facilities dealt with by the standard. Realistically, 30% of the committee should be drawn from the hospitality sector.

This significant lack of representation on the committee by hospitality sector experts has resulted in changes to the standard that have introduced complex, burdensome, and costly requirements that do not recognize the significant advances in design and technology that have been developed by the HVAC industry for hospitality facilities.

For example, over the past decade the HVAC industry has seen significant advances in laminar flow ventilation, high-efficiency and electronically enhanced filtration, heat recovery ventilation, IAQ sensor technology, and techniques for humidity and moisture control that have been ignored by the committee for application to address the unique IAQ challenges faced by hospitality facilities.

The ASHRAE committee appears to have adopted a philosophy that "one size fits all" without recognizing that hospitality facilities have significantly different ventilation requirements for IAQ than offices and other commercial and institutional facilities.

The specialized requirements that set them apart from other commercial and institutional facilities and that make engineering and operation of HVAC systems for hospitality facilities unique include:

  • Occupant densities;
  • Occupancy duration;
  • Diversity of activities;
  • Requirements to satisfy both visitors and occupants;
  • Responsibility for comfort of customers and employees; and
  • Accommodation of both smoking and nonsmoking preferences.

Factors That Make Hospitality Facilities Unique

Occupant densities. Hospitality venues are generally more densely occupied than commercial or institutional spaces. Figure 1 illustrates the occupant densities of 14 hospitality venues and 22 commercial/institutional venues* from Table 2 of 62-2001. One of the more prevalent commercial/institutional spaces is office space with only 7 people per 1,000 sq ft. Many hospitality venues including cafeterias, bars, casinos, and theaters have 100 or more people per 1,000 sq ft. (The one high-density institutional space is the education auditorium.)

Occupancy duration. Commercial buildings typically have fairly stable occupancies throughout working shifts. Typical shifts range from 8 to 10 hours. Hospitality venues, however, have continually shifting occupancy; patrons come and go staying for varying lengths of time during peak periods. Many visits in hospitality venues last between 1 and 3 hours.

Diversity of activities with potential IAQ impact. Large working kitchens are more likely present in hospitality venues than in other commercial buildings. Grease, fumes, and other emissions from grills, ovens, fireplaces, and gas stoves are characteristic of these environments.

Other parts of hospitality spaces are also very different when compared to other commercial and institutional spaces. Tableside grilling, mood lighting with candles or gas, smoking, and drinking alcoholic beverages are among the activities that are generally unique to hospitality venues and have the potential to generate different types and levels of indoor air contaminants.

Hospitality venues typically generate large amounts of moisture from cooking, laundry, and dishwashing activities. Higher plumbing concentrations may mean that cooking moisture and washroom odors are a more significant problem than for other occupancy types currently covered within the scope of 62-2001.

These large differences in sources are accounted for by ventilation rates. Examination of the ventilation rates presently contained in 62-2001 show a dramatic difference in the air exchange rates required for hospitality vs. commercial/institutional spaces. Because the difference is so large, the kind of equipment, the application of the HVAC equipment, and the engineering of the HVAC for the spaces are different between hospitality applications and other commercial/institutional applications. This reason alone justifies a different standard - a standard developed by using the specialized expertise from those who routinely work in or provide HVAC services to the hospitality industry.

Figure 2 illustrates this difference*. Ventilation rates and the occupancies are very different for these two groups of spaces. Commercial/institutional spaces are inhabited by less than 50 people per 1,000 sq ft and are ventilated at less than 5 ach. Hospitality spaces are occupied by more than 50 people per 1,000 sq ft and are ventilated at rates between 5 and 25 ach. The demands on the HVAC system in these two cases are quite different.

Satisfaction of visitors and occupants. In the hospitality industry, the first impressions of patrons are critical. More than other venues, hospitality venues must design, operate, and maintain ventilation systems to satisfy both visitors and occupants. Steps being taken to change the 62-2001 rates to satisfy occupants as opposed to visitors may not satisfy the specific needs of the hospitality industry.

Customers and employee comfort. In other commercial/institutional venues currently covered by 62-2001, occupants are likely to be a more significant concern. Employers generally have control over their employees' activities. Hospitality patrons and visitors, however, are not as amicable to control by a facility owner or manager as occupants of other venues are. This issue has important implications limiting social engineering and behavior control as options for maintaining the quality of indoor air in hospitality venues.

Patron preferences regarding smoking and nonsmoking options. Hospitality venues are unique among commercial establishments in North America today in part because smoking is still generally permitted in many such venues. Hospitality businesses are service-oriented establishments where many patrons choose to smoke. Some owners choose to accommodate smokers and others do not. Because 62-2001 is being changed to apply only to non-smoking spaces (those in the commercial/institutional realm), design engineers, hospitality business owners and operators, and building managers are being deprived of an engineering standard that will accommodate patron preferences.


The hospitality sector provides a vast and varied market for HVAC products and services with unique requirements. This sector has not been served well by recent changes to ASHRAE standards, which make it virtually impossible to engineer and operate hospitality establishments so that they comply with ASHRAE requirements.

The hospitality industry - represented by both Canadian and U.S. organizations including the American Gaming Association, the Nevada Resort Association, the National Restaurant Association, the Canadian Restaurant and Food Service Association, and the Hotel Association of Canada - has been joined by HVAC industry organizations to petition ASHRAE to create a new ventilation standard to provide guidance for the design and operation of HVAC systems for hospitality facilities. ES

* Densities and ventilation rates are selected from Table 2, 62-1999. Air exchange rates are calculated assuming a 10-ft ceiling.