Building energy efficiency and indoor air quality (IAQ) should be considered simultaneously, according to a new American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) IAQ position document. The document replaces the IAQ Position Statement and Paper approved by ASHRAE in 1989.

"The new IAQ position document addresses current building construction and maintenance practices and applies the society's guidance in ventilation and indoor air quality to them," ASHRAE President William Coad, P.E., said. "ASHRAE seeks to provide for occupants' well-being and comfort by improving indoor air quality and achieving efficient building operation."

Building energy efficiency and IAQ are interrelated but not incompatible, according to the society. These two issues should be considered simultaneously within all building energy and IAQ programs, designs and operations. The document notes that premature occupancy, before commissioning or completion of construction, is now recognized as a major contributor to building problems.

The society also recognizes the need for commissioning, as well as the need for properly directed operations and maintenance. Cost-saving cleaning strategies leave many buildings dirty, according to the document. The document commits the society to continuing its influence on building design, operation and maintenance through standards; supporting research related to ASHRAE Standards 62 and 55; continuing educational IAQ programs; and continuing to support communication and information exchange related to IAQ.

Last year, ASHRAE reaffirmed that its standards should and do consider health impacts when setting the criteria for acceptable IAQ. ASHRAE Standards 62 and 55 have been the primary U.S. national guidelines on indoor environmental management for many years. ASHRAE will continue its efforts in improving these standards, promoting their broad acceptance and implementation and supporting relevant research, according to the document.

ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62-1999, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, sets minimum ventilation rates and other requirements for residential, commercial and institutional buildings.

ASHRAE Standard 55-1992, Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, specifies the combinations of indoor thermal environmental factors and personal factors that will produce thermal environmental conditions acceptable to a majority of the occupants within the space.

The ASHRAE Indoor Air Quality Position Document makes several additional conclusions and recommendations: ASHRAE recognizes that there remains a significant need for more research on the causes, health and economic importance, scientifically supported ventilation rates and other solutions to IAQ problems. ASHRAE recommends expanded public and private support for research on IAQ and its effects on people.

ASHRAE recognizes that more widespread implementation of available IAQ knowledge, technologies and practices could significantly improve indoor environments, comfort and health. ASHRAE will continue IAQ educational programs for its members. ASHRAE recommends continued government support for related education and implementation programs.