Bill Bahnfleth, PhD, P.E. Immediate Past President of ASHRAE – IAQ Issues, ASHRAE & IAQA Consolidation and More

Air Date: 7-25-2015 | Episode: 335

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome Penn State Professor and ASHRAE Immediate Past President William P. Bahnfleth, Ph.D., P.E., Dr. Bahnfleth is a professor and director of the Indoor Environment Center in the Department of Architectural Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University-University Park…

Full Description: 

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome Penn State Professor and ASHRAE Immediate Past President William P. Bahnfleth, Ph.D., P.E., Dr. Bahnfleth is a professor and director of the Indoor Environment Center in the Department of Architectural Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University-University Park. He holds a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a Registered Professional Engineer. He has more than 30 years of experience as a consulting engineer, researcher and educator. Dr. Bahnfleth has been a member of ASHRAE since 1981 and in addition to being Immediate Past President he is an ASHRAE Fellow and Distinguished Lecturer.



Bill Bahnfleth, PhD, P.E. Immediate Past President of ASHRAE

Dr. Bahnfleth’s Presidential theme was Shaping the Next, focusing on creating positive change for our world, ourselves, and our work by setting goals, making realistic plans to achieve them, and having the commitment to follow them.  He put a strong emphasis on indoor air quality during his tenure and when introducing a collection of expert comments in the ASHRAE Journal he wrote “The first collection addresses indoor air quality (IAQ) the most important aspect of what I consider to be our fundamental obligation to strive to provide indoor environments that are safe, healthy, productive, and comfortable while conserving resources and the environment.”


ZMan’s Blog:

Everything Scientific About Buildings

Penn State University Professor Bill Bahnfleth, Ph.D, P.E. defines building science as “everything scientific that has to do with buildings”. Bill is Immediate Past President of ASHRAE. During his short presidential term of one year he sought to accomplish things that will endure. He did have some help with his goals; ASHRAE is a huge society with over 53,000 members and over 3,000 volunteers serving on committees. Some highlights of the accomplishments under his presidency include: a new and ambitious strategic plan, broadening the society’s offerings both residentially and globally, committing to partner with NAHB in developing the next version of the ICC-700 National Green Building Standard for residential buildings, a conference in Manila addressing High Performance Building in Developing Economies, publishing “The Strategic Guide to Commissioning”, agreement to a merger thereby bringing IAQA under the ASHRAE umbrella and more. Bill’s ASHRAE responsibilities took him to 29 countries

 Bill Bahnfleth, PhD, P.E. Immediate Past President of ASHRAE


Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

  • All PSU engineering students must take an undergraduate course in IEQ.
  • There is much more research money available for energy than available for IEQ.
  • “According to the government once air enters a building it no longer exists.”
  • Penn State offers a course in building failures, using case studies including some buildings on the university’s campus.
  • The Indoor Environment Center at Penn State is 12 years old. It is Penn State’s brand for IEQ research. Research areas include: bioaerosols, re-suspended dusts, and UVGI.
  • Penn State architectural engineering students have an increasing awareness of green building and sustainability.
  • What interests Bill is “whatever he is working on now” and important industry trends. Bill is working on UVGI and defining health and productivity in a way that can be monetized. Two IEQ projects of note are: 1)  installation and  monitoring of UVGI systems in two buildings (1 in Florida and 1 on the PSU campus) with both microbiological and energy measurements, and 2) modeling of coupled air contaminant transport and energy use of buildings.
  • The term “ozone has a bad association”, Bill advocates the use of UV lamps that do not produce ozone.
  • UVGI is most practical where outcomes can be measured such as: 1) in coil cleaning and 2) high risk environments such as homeless shelters, labs and healthcare facilities. Citing a fascinating statistics from an in vitro fertilization center where fertility rates increased after UV bulbs when fresh UV bulbs were installed and fertility rates decreased went as bulbs aged.
  • On IAQ and building performance:  the engineering of building systems and services (HVAC, lighting Lighting research: energy integration and chemical, biological radiological threats (CBR)
  • What’s “Shaping the next?” Organizations often state lofty goals and don’t achieve them. Theme about how to set high goals and reach them. ASHRAE like many other organizations has been too focused   on energy and atmosphere and needed to reassume a position of leadership in IAQ. “To reach the future we must do the next things right”. ASHRAE is dedicated to public service.  The society’s goals and planning are centered around: the world, ourselves and our work.
  • What’s next for IAQ? Putting a value on IAQ, putting IAQ on the agenda for funding,  getting the research community to work better with practitioners, design guides and standards.
  • The ASHRAE merger with IAQA was the” intersection of opportunity and preparation”. Bill sees IAQA as a permanent and dedicated partner with ASHRAE in building performance.
  • In order to get professional organizations to work together in IEQ, a memorandum of understanding creating the Indoor Environment Quality Global Alliance was signed Sunday, June 29, at ASHRAE’s 2014 Annual Conference in Seattle, Wash. Other groups joining the Alliance are the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), Air Infiltration and Ventilation Centre (AIVC), the Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA), the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) and the Federation of European Heating and Air-Conditioning Associations (REHVA). More information can be found at The alliance is expected to expand soon from just IAQ to include lighting and acoustics.
  • The ASHRAE’s publication “Indoor Air Quality Guide: Best Practices for Design, Construction and Commissioning” suffered from low distribution selling only 1,500 over 4 years. Crediting, architect Hal Levin with the suggestion, that in order to get the document into wider circulation it should be given away gratis, ASHRAE said OK and over 18,000 copies have been downloaded in the last year. ( Download at
  • The ASHRAE “Green Guide: The Design, Construction, and Operation of Sustainable Buildings” is a compendium of tips for green buildings, the 4th edition features a new IEQ chapter that references the IAQ Guide.
  • Key points from ASHRAE’s “Buildings in Balance” webinar: IEQ must be integrated into building design, both energy efficiency and IEQ are important, post occupancy evaluation is needed after commissioning it’s important to get inside buildings to see what is really happening, common pitfalls affecting IEQ, performance protocols,
  • Takeaways from 2014 Indoor Air conference Hong Kong: how interdisciplinary the IEQ field is, household air pollution results in 4.3 million deaths per year from solid indoor fuels.
  • Microbiome’s effect on IEQ. How clean do buildings need to be? First identify healthy microbiomes and then promote it. Overcome the challenge of the public’s aversion to “bugs” (microbes).
  • ASHRAE IAQ 2016 conference will be held in Washington, DC. The theme will be Defining Indoor Air Quality: Policy, Standards, Best Practices.
  • ASHRAE is one of the few groups so credible with ANSI that they are permitted to oversee their own processes.
  • In response to the text question: “Are there plans for studioes on how people are affected by indoor contaminants?” Bill responded that studies have been done on how air quality in schools affects learning and effects of carbon dioxide on decision making. A helpful listeners suggested the following websites: http://www.iaqscience.lbl.gov


  • HVAC design was formerly a respected specialty which has now disappeared.
  • It’s good that new engineers put their noses into IEQ.

Today’s music: Penn State Official Fight Song, youtube


Z-Man signing off