Ed Bas
I wasn't there, but I can imagine what went on. The Great Smoking Debate continues. ASHRAE grapples with the intricacies of Standard 62, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. A forum held during the Winter Meeting in Atlantic City in January was attended by Snips' managing editor, Michael McConnell, who reported that the debate was a hot one.

No surprise there. Smoking continues to be an emotional issue. Should there be a separate addendum for bars, restaurants and casinos that continue to allow smoking? Or should, as some claim, smoking be banned entirely indoors because as long as you allow it you will never have acceptable indoor air quality?

The hospitality industry maintains that it will suffer economic hardship if smokers are banned entirely. No one likes to turn customers away. And it's no secret that when some people gather for a meal, a drink or some gaming, they like to light up. That's a fact of life, whether we like it or not.

Now, the question is, should we subject other non-smokers in the room to the fallout from others' tobacco smoke?

A good question. But not one, I fear, that ASHRAE should be caught up in. ASHRAE is an engineering society, and if there is a way to filter out or otherwise separate the good air from the bad, then that is something that engineers can help to sort out.

But I'm not so sure that ASHRAE should be foraging much further into this smoke-filled room. There is the very real danger of being used by the tobacco industry as a means to mold or influence future legislation, and surely no one in this industry wants that.

Is BOMA dragging its feet on IAQ?

On another but related matter: Why do I get the feeling BOMA continues to drag its feet on indoor air quality?

BOMA, as you know, is the Building Owners and Managers Association. As such, it is on guard for its members best interests. Which probably answers my question.

In a recent Issues Report, BOMA addresses IAQ. It begins by saying that any changes to ASHRAE Standard 62.1, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, "must be reasonable, achievable, and cost effective." Nothing wrong with that, on the surface. But notice there is nothing there in regard to human health, comfort or productivity. Those words also leave much room for maneuvering. "Not cost effective," could conceivably be an easy out for many building owners who don't want to make a change in favor of improved IAQ. Or, "not reasonable." According to whom?

"Now that Standard 62.1 is continually modified and amended," according to BOMA, there are many opportunities to proactively propose new addenda that reflect the 'real world' concerns of commercial real estate."

Again, let's not let a worthy standard get watered down or altered here to appease the concerns of those who allegedly live in the "real world"¿ as opposed to those building engineers, IAQ consultants and practitioners and, most of all, tenants and building occupants who live¿ elsewhere?

On a final note: Hats off to NRCA for putting on a wonderful 115th national convention in San Antonio. This was one of the finest I've been to. Author James Bradley, Flags of Our Fathers, left us all agog with his insightful, riveting slice of American history.