A public ASHRAE Journal podcast hosted a panel discussion where experts discuss the critical topic of protecting building occupants from smoke during wildfire and prescribed burn events. This is part seven of a seven-part series.

…continued from part six.

Part seven of seven. Image supplied by Robert Harkness/Unsplash

Part seven of seven. Image supplied by Robert Harkness/Unsplash

The panel consists of:

  • Daniel Bourque, host and professional engineer from Halifax, Canada
  • Greg Nilsson, technical officer at the National Research Council of Canada. He actively researches technologies enhancing indoor air quality, with a specific focus on wildfire smoke since 2017
  • Rebecca Schmidt, a professor and molecular epidemiologist at the University of California. She studies the health effects of various exposures during pregnancy, including wildfire smoke and air quality issues

Bourque shifts the conversation towards practical implementations of protection measures, drawing an analogy with shad flies in Montreal. Nilsson explains that areas with regular smoke events, like British Columbia and Alberta in Canada (and the Western Cape in South Africa), can adopt a similar mentality to other seasonal challenges. He emphasises the need for risk analysis and thoughtful decision-making since filters are a considerable cost. Nilsson also highlights the importance of protecting higher-rated filters by using pre-filters and discusses strategies such as pressure differentials to keep smoke out.

Schmidt adds that the guideline considers various building types including residential, institutional and commercial settings. She notes that while there’s an emphasis on commercial structures, the approaches can be applied to single-family homes or other environments. The guideline addresses the unique challenges posed by institutional settings like prisons, where operators need to make informed decisions considering both employee and occupant safety.

Nilsson informs readers that ASHRAE Guideline 44P is currently in public review, encouraging individuals to participate in the review process. He mentions that the document is available on the ASHRAE website, and people can share their thoughts and comments. Schmidt and Nilsson express openness to feedback and emphasise the importance of community involvement. Nilsson mentions that reaching out to committee members or participating as a guest in committee meetings is possible.

Bourque queries the committee’s interactions, asking if different perspectives are considered. Nilsson and Schmidt share insights into the committee dynamics, acknowledging the presence of guests with diverse backgrounds, including filter manufacturers, design experts and building operators. They explain that meetings are conversational and that they welcome contributions from various professionals.

In the final segment, Bourque expresses his initial goal of finding a concise guide or flowchart for facility managers. Nilsson and Schmidt mention that decision-making flowcharts are part of the guideline, providing guidance on when to engage and offering different options. They discuss the possibility of creating summary slides and infographics to make the information digestible for various audiences.

The experts encourage community involvement and express a willingness to incorporate diverse perspectives into the guideline’s development.


Live webcast on ASHRAE website