Do the school buildings you lead, manage, contract for, maintain, or sell HVAC equipment to meet ASHRAE Standard 62.1 for Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality? If not, that building is already a health and well-being threat to students and faculty. As if those in charge did not already have work to do to achieve healthy air exchange, ASHRAE’s newest Standard–241–is here to up the ante in preparation for the next pandemic or public health emergency. Not worried about that just yet?


Why you should worry about school occupant health in 2024 and going forward:

  • Climate change affects the environmental transmission of infectious and non-infectious diseases by altering biological and ecological processes.1
  • Climate change is creating increased exposure pathways by bringing humans and pathogens closer together while also selecting pathogens that evolve to survive in higher temperatures.2
  • Pollen allergies, which can affect student performance, have increased over the last twenty years due to higher temperatures and levels of CO2 in the air. Pollen seasons are now 20 days longer than in 1990. By 2040, counts are expected to become more than double.3
  • The next pandemic, by some accounts, has a 28% chance of showing up within 5 to 10 years. Others will say we really don’t know. But that’s the point, isn’t it? We don’t know. What do we know? The world needs a better game plan next time around. Highly effective mechanical ventilation, filtration, thermal comfort, and controlled humidity are big players in preparedness.

While ASHRAE Standard 241 provides valuable guidance for enhancing indoor air quality, it doesn’t replace existing ventilation standards like Standard 62.1 or other building code requirements. Instead, it complements these standards by offering additional strategies for infection risk management during pandemics or other public health emergencies. Now, this new standard is not meant for everyday HVAC operations, but more so for being ready to operate in Infection Risk Management Mode (IRMM) when occupant safety is on the line.


What’s the difference between ASHRAE Standard 62.1 and 241?

While ASHRAE 62.1 focuses on the amount of outdoor air required to dilute harmful pathogens, ASHRAE 241 aims to control IAQ through filtration, air cleaning, and disinfection.

ASHRAE states, “Standard 241 breaks new ground by setting requirements for equivalent clean airflow rate (ECAi), the flow rate of pathogen-free airflow into occupied areas of a building that would have the same effect as the total of outdoor air, filtration of indoor air, and air disinfection by technologies such as germicidal ultraviolet light (UVC).”

Most buildings were not originally designed to achieve the ECAi rates. And these new ventilation requirements increase building ventilation rates by up to ten times current standards! ASHRAE considers the following as compatible with Equivalent Clean Air:

  • Outdoor air (mechanical and natural ventilation)
  • Air passed through MERV 11 or higher filters (NOTE: BPE believes MERV 8 is generally high enough to bring in fresh air and displace stale air.)
  • Air passed through ultraviolet lights
  • New emerging technologies if they are third-party tested

BPE energy recovery systems fulfill the need for mechanical ventilation that effectively exchanges indoor air with outdoor. It does it super efficiently, too–recovering thermal energy in the range of 80% to well over 90%. And BPE ERVs can be installed parallel to standard heating and cooling systems and still meet ASHRAE Standard 55 for human comfort.

BPE has worked with school districts to install energy recovery ventilation systems that are energy efficient enough to allow the addition of air conditioning with no net increase in power consumption. In modern schools with air conditioning, the savings have been substantial–over 32% energy savings as measured and verified by the Federal Government’s ENERGY STAR® Buildings program. (Find the ENERGY STAR report HERE).

So BPE ERV DOAS systems are a true asset for those ready to upgrade to ASHRAE standard 241. To completely familiarize yourself with this new standard, find it HERE. Not an HVAC pro? Seek the advice of a contractor who can tell you what you need to get the job done.

1Olivier Uwishema, Daniel S. Masunga, Korduni M. Naisikye, Fatemazehra G. Bhanji, Ashley J. Rapheal, Rukia Mbwana, Abubakar Nazir, and Jack Wellington, “Impacts of Environmental and Climatic Changes on Future Infectious Diseases,” International Journal of Surgery 109, no. 2 (2023): 167–70,

2Neha Pathak, “Climate Change Is Increasing the Risk of Infectious Diseases Worldwide,” Yale Climate Connections, February 22, 2023,

3Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Climate Change and Allergies,” accessed February 19, 2024,



Standard 241? But some school buildings haven’t met ASHRAE Standard 62.1 yet! High-efficiency technology is the answer.

Building Performance Equipment, Inc. (BPE) recommends the use of high-efficiency Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) to control temperature and humidity as well as ventilate indoor environments effectively. Our units have provided excellent air quality to numerous school buildings. While they won’t eliminate the threat of pathogens–which is where ASHRAE Standard 241 with its UV light requirements come into play, they will lower viral loads by displacing stale air with fresh air. Lower the load, lower transmission rates and illness intensity.

Our guide to ERV installation in schools will show you how easy it is to meet and exceed Standard 62.1:  BPE’s Guide: Designing and Installing High Efficiency Air to Air Energy Recovery for Residential, Schools, and Light- Commercial Buildings

Second to human health, saving energy and money on energy bills is vital and doable with high-efficiency air-to-air energy recovery HVAC systems. Traditional energy recovery equipment uses very high-pressure drops, small cores, and fans that typically take hundreds of watts of energy, even for a small office or residential application. New technology such as higher-end ERVs and fans don’t have those pitfalls.

When you use a very high-efficiency fan, the power consumption, even for 110 cfm, can be as low as 19 watts of power. That is less than a 20-watt light bulb. When you combine these fans with a very good efficiency direct counterflow heat exchanger, we find that we can get fan efficiencies as high as .2 watts /CFM. This is much better than the traditional 5 – 10 watts/CFM. This is a very large improvement in energy efficiency. The overall rating of energy recovery equipment can be defined as EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) which is the Btu’s of heating and cooling energy recovered for the watts of total power consumed by the ERV can be well over an EER of 60. (The average industry standard is 10. BPE ERVs average 36 to 160 EER.)

When using this equipment you are trying to meet two main ASHRAE Standards, 62.1 (Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality) and 90.1 (The Energy Efficiency Standard). These two standards are almost directly opposed. The ventilation standard 62.1 dictates using more energy to precondition more outdoor air, which takes a lot of energy. Conversely, the goal of Standard 90.1 is to reduce energy consumption in a building. The main way to meet both of these standards without increasing energy consumption is by using very high-efficiency air-to-air energy recovery with high-efficiency fans. Typically, a standard existing exhaust fan can be replaced with an ERV and two high-efficiency fans and the power consumption will actually decrease. That’s the power of energy recovery that raises the bar!

The pandemic threw us many curves and uncertainties, but one point is clear: We need to do better in keeping our kids in school safely, not just for everyone occupying school buildings, but for mental health reasons as well. To do that with an airborne virus circulating will take excellence in HVAC.

Interested in helping your school and/or district make changes to save money, keep kids safely in school, and lower education’s carbon footprint? Give us a call. We have the expertise to upgrade building systems and the will to go the extra mile for the next generation.


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