Indoor air quality



UBC’s Indoor air quality approach

HVAC systems are engineered to follow WorkSafeBC Occupational Health & Safety Regulations (OHSR) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards and guidelines. The regulations and standards stipulate the requirements around the design, operation, and maintenance of HVAC systems. Compliance with WorkSafeBC and ASHRAE are a primary focus of the technical and trade specialists within UBC Facilities.

UBC strives to design, build, operate and maintain ventilation systems to ensure good indoor air quality that supports optimal health, comfort and well-being of building occupants. With a mix of facilities that range from state-of-the-art computer-controlled ventilation systems through generations of older equipment, our goal is to operate the buildings in a manner that meets established performance standards regarding ventilation, filtration, temperature, relative humidity, and odor to maximize occupant comfort while moderating energy usage and emissions.

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Operations and maintenance

UBC Facilities has a comprehensive filter monitoring and replacement program. Our dedicated team of National Air Filter Association (NAFA) Level 1 Certified Technicians conduct routine inspections and filter change out as per NAFA Installation, Operation and Maintenance of Air Filtration Systems guidelines in compliance with American Society of Heating and Ventilation Engineers (ASHRAE) recommendations. We conduct filter change outs based on operating context, inspection results, diagnostic readings and time-based replacements.

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Ventilation is the movement of air throughout a building by either natural or mechanical means. For mechanical ventilation, an exhaust and supply ductwork is installed to exchange stale air for fresh air and mechanical equipment is attached to the ductwork to provide air filtration and comfortable levels of temperature. For natural ventilation systems, a combination of sustainable strategies are used to provide a comfortable temperature for the occupants. Delivery of at least the minimum ASHRAE recommended amount of outdoor air is the target of a correctly functioning ventilation system.

HVAC systems at UBC are able to take advantage of bringing in outdoor air, and systems are monitored and adjusted based on the temperature outside. The majority of buildings on campus use 100% outdoor air (free cooling) during late spring, summer, and early fall, with the exception of buildings or spaces with mechanical cooling, such as air conditioning. As the outdoor temperature falls during the winter months, our systems adjust to bring less outdoor air indoors, while still ensuring a healthy indoor air quality.

Activities performed to support ventilation

  • Air handling units are scheduled to pre-condition spaces and operate during the occupied hours of the building
  • Air handling units are operated in alignment with AHSRAE 62.1 ventilation design requirements
  • Daily operational checks are performed on air handling units serving learning spaces
  • Verification of overall controls programming as per design intent
  • Maintenance inspections are scheduled to ensure function of outdoor air dampers and HVAC controls on main air handling units.
  • Teaching spaces without mechanical systems are a priority for upgrades by adding new fans or portable filtration units to ensure good air quality

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Air filtration

Air filtration is the media used in a building’s HVAC system to filter dust, pollen, and other particles in the building airstream. Filters trap particles to prevent them from being recirculated.

Activities performed to support filtration

  • The majority of main Air handling units (AHU) on campus are equipped with ASHRAE recommended MERV13 filters. AHU’s that are not designed to accommodate a higher filtration rating it is not advantageous to increase the MERV rating as the airflow will be restricted and the fan systems will deliver less air to the space which is counterproductive.
  • Building AHU filters are changed based operating context, inspection results, diagnostic readings and time-based replacements. We have a dedicated team of National Air Filter Association (NAFA) Level 1 Certified Technicians. During maintenance inspections, these trained professionals make sure air filters are properly sized and are within their service life. They inspect filter housing and racks to ensure proper fit to maximize air that flows through the filter.
  • UBC Facilities has been recognized with clean air awards from NAFA.

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Reporting an indoor air quality issue

To ensure prioritization of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) issues in learning spaces (classrooms, lecture theatres, etc.), please call the Facilities Service Centre at 604.822.2173

If your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) issue is creating a health concern, please contact