The global pandemic has brought attention to many issues that previously were only of interest to small cadres of insiders and subject matter experts. One issue whose profile has been raised significantly is Indoor Air Quality, particularly as a means of limiting the spread of a virus like COVID-19 but also as a factor in the quality of daily life.
The simple fact is that modern humanity spends more time inside manmade structures and for far too long the quality of the air breathed by residents, students, patients, and more, has not been considered.
The pandemic has forced leaders to become more fully versed in understanding indoor environments and many within our engineering community here in Ontario have participated in discussions around setting standards for institutions including schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.
The simple fact is that engineers as a group, are best suited to understand the challenges and opportunities of varying building envelopes. Engineers are well versed in construction design as well as the current mechanical systems that make the air safe to breathe. This duality is why OSPE, on behalf of its members, provided guidance on the reopening of buildings including advising on mechanical equipment and system upgrades that would increase IAQ in structures where our most vulnerable citizens congregate.
Recognizing that this issue is one that requires consistent examination, OSPE has created an Indoor Air Quality Advisory Group, chaired by Joseph Fox, P.Eng. This group had its first meeting on May 3, 2022, where it approved its Terms of Reference.
This document includes the stated purpose of “consulting with engineers and/or other professionals knowledgeable on Air Quality Standards, with the intention of providing guidance and best practices regarding indoor air quality to government, industry, and civil society.”
This group intends to prepare a Guideline for Indoor Air Quality that will help decision-makers pursue the most cost-effective and meaningful changes to existing standards and better understand emergency interventions.
This type of activity is an example of OSPE following through on the promise of the responsibility of the engineering community to LEAD and CARE as contained in our 2022-2025 Strategic Plan.
Look for outputs from this group in the months to come.