Issues related to mold and residential and small building humidity regulation will be discussed at ASHRAE's Winter Meeting.

Controlling building humidity is essential for human health and productivity, but if you ask people about the topic, odds are many will say it's all about mold.

Because there is so much to the topic, issues related to mold and residential and small building humidity regulation will be discussed in a public session held at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers' 2003 Winter Meeting, Jan. 25-29 in Chicago.

"Sensationalism and bias dominate mold discussion," said session chairman Charles Culp, Ph.D., P.E., Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. "ASHRAE brings a balanced, objective viewpoint from numerous experts in microbiology, medicine, law, engineering, and insurance to this public session. As reflected by the presentations, the session will touch on a wide variety of issues related to mold and mildew."

The session will be held Jan. 28, at McCormick Place. Admission is free. It is sponsored by ASHRAE's task group on residential and small building applications.

The session will present guidance for the industry and consumers on all aspects of dealing with humidity and mold in residential and small buildings.

National experts with skills in medicine, microbiology, law, insurance, and engineering will discuss the causal issues, the medical and legal aspects, how to prevent and deal with mold situations, and recommend solutions.

The presentations and speakers are as follows:

"Microbial Investigation Strategy and Interpretation" will address mold evaluation procedures and the technical causes of mold growth. Chronic dampness and wetting of building materials are associated with growth of molds in indoor environments. Inspection techniques, sampling strategies, and mold mitigation methods also will be discussed. The speaker is Philip Morey, Ph.D., Air Quality Sciences Inc., Gettysburg, Pa.

"The Health Effects of Indoor Mold Exposure" will address building-associated symptoms and building-related illnesses, such as allergies and asthma. Documented experience and medical literature show that allergic respiratory disease can occur after unusual indoor mold exposure.

Specific care must be taken with the remediation efforts when building occupants have experienced allergic respiratory disease associated with indoor mold exposures. The speaker is Joseph Jarvis, M.D., University of Nevada, Reno, Nev.

"Mold Claims: The Liability of HVAC Industry Members and Building Owners Under the Law" will provide an overview of the types of claims typically filed against hvac industry members and building owners when residential and other small buildings, such as schools, become infested with mold.

In some cases, industry members and building owners are being held liable for personal injury and property damage. The presentation also will provide legal steps that hvac industry members and building owners can take to protect themselves. Maralynne Flehner, Esq., J.D., King of Prussia, Pa., will be the speaker.

"Residential and Small Building Humidity and Mold Control." Dust mites, mold spores, volatile organic compounds, and mycotoxins have become the new indoor air quality problem. This segment will address the implications of standard packaged air conditioning equipment used for dehumidification of outdoor air.

The use of outdoor air to dilute contaminants in the habitable space to increase indoor air quality has increased the effect of biological organisms in the space, especially mold growth. Issues relating to current design weather data and its effect on system design will be discussed. The speaker is Ray Patenaude, P.E., The Holmes Agency Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla.

"What Happened? Why Mold and Why Now?" The reason we have more mold problems is because we have more mold, according to speaker Joseph Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng., Building Science Corp., Westford, Mass.

"Mold has been around a long time; what is the big deal now?" he said. "We've always had roof leaks, plumbing leaks, window leaks, and rain during construction. Buildings don't dry as quickly as they used to. The materials we build out of are much more moisture sensitive; they can't take the moisture 'events' the way the old materials did."

"Moisture control: Achievable Through Accurate Load Determination and Proper Equipment Selection" will address how shortcut practices, rules of thumb, and other approaches result in oversized air conditioning and heat pump equipment.

Coupled with high outdoor humidity and/or unaccounted high internal latent loads, this over-sizing often results in situations where indoor humidity runs wild and moisture accumulates in the building.

Solutions to this involve accurate and detailed load calculations, proper use of safety factors, and proper selection of equipment that matches the application requirements. The speaker is Glenn Hourahan, P.E., Air Conditioning Contractors of America, Arlington, Va.

"Homebuilders' Perspective on Mold in Residential Buildings." Recent attention about the presence of mold in indoor air raises questions about health effects, building design, and building operation practices.

While mold is not new, its presence at construction sites and in indoor environments has become a preoccupation for many builders, homebuyers, and occupants. This presentation will explore builders' experiences and responses to the mold issue. The speaker is Thomas Kenney, P.E., National Association of Homebuilders Research Center, Upper Marlboro, Md.

"Insurer's Perspective on Mold in Residential Buildings." Insurance claims involving mold have skyrocketed in the past two years. Increased litigation, loss and risk make insurers' rates rise. This presentation will address the insurance aspects of mold issues. The speaker is David Golden, National Association of Independent Insurers, Des Plaines, Ill.

Building safety concerns

Mold isn't the only threat to the health of building occupants will be discussed by ASHRAE officials Jan. 27.

In the past, building occupants were primarily concerned with the facilities being healthy and comfortable. Following Sept. 11, 2001, safety also became a major focus not only for occupants but for owners and designers as well.

Findings from a report on safeguarding people in their environments, whether under normal or extraordinary incidents, will be presented 3 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Palmer House Hilton.

A presentation called "Environmental Security: An Added Value in Engineering Services" will also take place 3 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Palmer House Hilton. Admission is free.

The report will address health, comfort, and environmental security issues involving air, food, and water.

"This report will provide good solid guidance to designers and owners of new and existing buildings to improve security and environmental quality under normal and extraordinary conditions," said ASHRAE President Donald Colliver, Ph.D., P.E.

The report is a follow-up to the report released in January 2002 by ASHRAE called "Risk Management Guidance for Health and Safety under Extraordinary Incidents." That document has been nationally recognized by the Office of Homeland Security as one of the four most-important documents published since Sept. 11.

"The first report was a rapid response to an issue to which there was little time to work through," Colliver said. "Information on practices and procedures was limited. This is a more comprehensive approach to applying the skills of engineers in using hvacr systems with buildings' operations for the safety of occupants."

The report has been expanded to address hvacr relative to control of water and food processing.