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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

We strive to provide a safe, comfortable and healthy environment for learning and working at TRU. Our goal is to maintain the ASHRAE minimum Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) standard while attempting to attain researched optimal IAQ standards.

 Temperature and relative humidity

Acceptable minimum standards

The outdoor relative humidity in Kamloops is historically full-spectrum, but our indoor relative humidity tends to average out around 40 percent. Using the CSA Standard CAN/CSA Z412-00 (R2011) - Office Ergonomics table as a baseline, we interpolate for 40 percent relative humidity.

Temperature / Humidity Ranges for Comfort
ConditionsRelative HumidityAcceptable Operating Temperatures, °C
Summer (light clothing) If 30 percent 24.5 - 28
Interpolated 40 percent [22*] - 27.2
If 60 percent 23 - 25.5
Winter (warm clothing) If 30 percent 20.5 - 25.5
Interpolated 40 percent 20.3 - 25
If 60 percent 20 - 24

* (See Ideal Standards)
Adapted from ASHRAE 55-2010, and CCOHS Fact Sheet.

These are the minimum ranges that we attempt to consistantly maintain. Where conflict exists between ideal and minimum standards, the ideal standard overrides.

Ideal standards

Beyond the minimum standards, there are researched ideal studying and working conditions that we strive to achieve and maintain wherever possible. These conditions have been shown to optimize productivity for the average population in classroom and office settings, and thus override the minimum standards where they conflict.

Although these are ideal, they may be difficult to achieve and maintain in some areas.

The articles by Jung et al.(2011) and Sappanen et al.(2006) corroborate that the ideal studying and working temperature is 22°C, and ASHRAE 62.1999 suggests that our average indoor relative humidity of 40 percent is ideal for all seasons.

 Ventilation and CO2

Acceptable minimum standards

Many factors can make a room feel 'stuffy', including temperature, relative humidity, ventilation rate, and especially CO2. Ventilation rate and CO2 levels are usually inversely related, and thus play a major part in making a space feel comfortable while contributing to its inhabitants' productivity. We don't currently have all the necessary facilities to monitor our CO2 levels campus-wide. This is a work-in-progress, and will improve annually as we upgrade our building automation systems.

Atmospheric CO2

Current Earth outdoor CO2 level in ppm

CO2 levels are considered to be safe up to TWA 5000ppm CO2, but will start to have increasingly negative effects on productivity when above 1000 parts per million (ppm).

Outdoor CO2 levels constantly rise and fall while gradually trending upwards.

ASHRAE has a very minimal standard of "[within 700ppm of outdoor ppm CO2]] (ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2013 Technical Fact 35), but we choose to use the standard defined by Prill (2000).

Classrooms should have less than 1000ppm CO2,
Offices should have less than 800ppm CO2, and the difference from outdoor level of CO2 shouldn't exceed 600ppm CO2

As for ventilation, we systematically replace all air filters on campus as needed by their specific coverage. Unless a breach has occurred somewhere in the system, the air flowing through the ductwork maintains a turbulence that makes accumulating dirt in the system extremely difficult. Dirt accumulating on the outside of vents and dampers is usually a result of housekeeping issues. The dirt from the room is circulated, and becomes deposited on the metal as the air is returning to the system. To prevent this appearance, areas should be vacuumed and dusted routinely, and vents should be cleaned periodically if dirt accumulation appears.

Ideal standards

As stated in the acceptable minimum standards, this is an area which could benefit from our gradual expansion of CO2 sensor use across campus. For those areas which are suspect of having CO2 issues we can't observe on our building automation system, we have portable monitors which can be deployed on an as-needed basis.

"On average, a 400-ppm increase in CO2 [above atmospheric level] was associated with a 21 percent decrease in... cognitive scores ..." (Allen (2016)) implies that we could always benefit from lowering our indoor CO2 levels by increasing our ventilation, which would simultaneously reduce contact with other indoor contaminants.

 Other indoor environmental factors

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mould, dust, body odours, and other contaminants are apparent almost everywhere indoors. Thankfully, our construction practices include using low-VOC materials wherever possible, and we use active air circulation in most places on campus.

If you suspect an area may have an air quality issue, please report it as per the instructions in Report an Issue Section below.

Feeling hot or cold?

Using a floor heater or fan uses up energy, and may affect the air quality of your neighbours. By heating up your room, the building automation system may be cooling down your neighbours further to reach the programmed equilibrium.

Before you consider using bandaid repairs, please tell us that the temperature is too hot or cold. We'll try to fix it at the source, which will save energy and likely make everyone in your area happier!

Suspecting mould?

Mould spores are everywhere in nature and buildings, and most of them are completely harmless if they aren't provided with encouraging conditions. If these spores experience warm and humid conditions, it can start to cause problems with the indoor air quality.

Definitely report a suspected issue if you're experiencing any of the following symptoms listed by Health Canada:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Coughing and phlegm build-up
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Symptoms of asthma
  • Allergic reactions

When reporting a suspected mold issue in the Report an Issue section, please answer the following questions:

  • Do you suspect the presence of mould?
  • Which symptoms are you are experiencing, and where are you experience them?
  • Do you notice any water damage?
  • Are there any musty odours?
 Report an issue

Thank you for contributing your time to make campus a more comfortable and productive place. By reporting issues, you give us a chance to fix equipment we might not yet know is broken or misprogrammed, which could save us from having unnecessary down-time.

When you report in, please answer the following questions:

  • What is the exact location of the issue (building and room number)?
  • What is the issue (too hot, cold, no ventilation, feels stuffy, etc)?
  • How long has it been going on?
  • Do you know if other areas are affected around the trouble spot?
  • Is there any temperature sensitive research, equipment, or specimens in this area?
  • Do you plan to use, or are you currently using, any bandaid repairs (ie. floor heater)?

We receive many requests every day, and may not be able to respond immediately. To maintain control of the workload, all work orders are internally prioritized and scheduled based on the information you provide.

All contact information is located on our Contact Us page.

A member of our team will followup with you when we investigate this issue.


Allen, Joseph G., Piers MacNaughton, Usha Satish, Suresh Santanam, Jose Vallarino, and John D. Spengler. "Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments." Environmental Health Perspectives. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 01 June 2016. Web. 06 Sept. 2016.

Jung, Gun Joo, Sung Ki Song, Young Chull Ahn, Geun Sug Oh, and Young Bin Im. "Experimental Research on Thermal Comfort in the University Classroom of Regular Semesters in Korea." ResearchGate. Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology, 1 Feb. 2011. Web. 1 Sept. 2016

Prill, Rich. "Why Measure Carbon Dioxide Inside Buildings?" Washington State University. Energy Program, 2000. Web. 6 Sept. 2016.

Sappanen, Olli, William J. Fisk, and QH Lei. "Effect of Temperature on Task Performance in Office Environment." Berkeley Lab. Energy Technologies Area, 01 July 2006. Web. 06 Sept.

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