The Covid-19 crisis and climate change are boosting interest in ventilation and in training that helps people calculate the amount of ventilation needed in a home or building, says HeatSpring instructor Rick Karg.

Karg, who teaches  ASHRAE 62.2 Ventilation for Single Family Dwellings, says people are increasingly interested in ventilation because it helps reduce the spread of Covid-19. As for climate change, he expects the Biden administration to invest more money into tightening up buildings and creating net zero buildings. 

Karg’s course focuses on helping students meet ventilation standards created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and gives students 15 continuing education credits.

The Pros and Cons of Tighter Buildings

Weatherization efforts create a need for ventilation, says Karg. One of the most active agencies involved in creating well insulated buildings is the federal government, which operates a weatherization program for low-income people. Federal workers involved in the program often take Karg’s course. Karg’s students also include contractors, builders and home performance contractors.

When builders and others tighten up homes, their efforts can provide both advantages and disadvantages, says Karg. 

When houses are not well insulated and allow for too much air intake, they are often drafty, uncomfortable and easy targets for pests. It’s also more expensive to heat and cool these houses. When homes are weatherized, these problems are minimized but indoor air quality can suffer. Lead paint, moisture buildup and emissions from natural gas stoves are common concerns. Mold and mildew can grow, and inhabitants’ asthma and respiratory conditions can worsen, says Karg.

“The DOE realized about 25 to years ago that they might be causing problems in some houses, insulating and tightening them.” For example, combustion appliances and exhaust fans could backdraft. “The DOE became very health and safety sensitive,” says Karg. As a result of those concerns, ventilation became more important to the program.

Pandemic Boosts Interest in Ventilation 

Another issue driving interest in ventilation is the Covid-19 crisis. Karg, president of Residential Energy Dynamics, tracked changes in the use of his products that help users calculate how much ventilation they need. Both the paid and free versions of his tools showed that ventilation efforts took a dive when Covid-19 first hit, because workers weren’t going into homes. But when it became clear that ventilation plays an important role in minimizing chances of contracting the virus, the use of his products increased.

“Ventilation is one of the best ways to reduce the transmission of Covid,” he says. Air filtration systems are also helpful. “Ventilation is really important not only in residential structures but school buildings.”

Now, as a result of the pandemic, people are becoming aware of the benefits of ventilation. 

Negative News Sparks Education about Ventilation

While the uptick in interest in ventilation is the result of negative news–the pandemic and climate change– it has yielded some positive results. More people are better educated about ventilation and its many benefits, says Karg. 

“I don’t think that ventilation system manufacturers are seeing an uptick yet, but I think they will,” he says.