On every side of the indoor air quality (IAQ) equation: people. At the heart of our industry: science and technology.

But what’s missing today is where those two things come together–enhanced, universal standards and protocols to promote safety, validate efficacy and provide users with the confidence and peace of mind they deserve.

While this is far from a new issue, the global pandemic has increased focus on our industry’s impact, making it imperative that we address questions around IAQ head-on with alacrity, sensitivity and the seriousness of purpose it requires.

Seizing opportunity

This moment presents an opportunity for our industry to establish standards for IAQ innovation to guide countless solutions toward a unified goal: providing the best IAQ possible to as many people as possible.

At the same time, as an industry, we need to create the space that enables us to consider how different layers of IAQ technologies should work together. If we can collaborate on those fronts, I see a clear and rewarding opportunity for IAQ industry players—spanning filtration, ventilation and air ionization systems, among others—to further revolutionize technologies and solutions through responsible innovation, action and advocacy.

Shaping and owning the future of IAQ is the task of responsible individuals, businesses and industry groups. A few recommendations to guide these efforts:

As IAQ practitioners, we need to connect with as many other industry leaders as possible to align on fact-based messaging around certain technologies. Recent misinformation from within the community underscores a need for broadcasting facts, not fodder. We can then apply these facts to aid public awareness, education and transparency efforts across the IAQ spectrum.

We must commit to the development of an industry-wide culture of collaboration supported by real-world context and data. Professionals working in IAQ deserve a seat at the table when it comes to sharing information, facts and findings from testing or research. We all need access to reliable health and safety resources backed by empirical data. In general, anyone spending significant time inside—whether in a school, home, or work setting—deserves accurate information and clear guidance about how to improve IAQ in their respective environments.

Why now? 

Diverse global industries from education to healthcare to commercial aviation benefit from universal standards that guide innovation, protect consumers, ensure public safety and promote health. Indoor air quality is already a member of the collective of industries prioritizing testing (and I’m proud that GPS is an active leader in this category) and public confidence en route to business success.

The next phase: institutionalizing scientifically-valid, universal and common IAQ testing protocols that adhere to peer-accepted methodologies and practices. Moreover, we need to expand testing that applies real-world context and conditions to measuring IAQ safety and efficacy—building on work already in-progress today. For instance, tests conducted in third-party labs and direct feedback from active installations can help validate that technology works, meets expectations and adheres to safety standards.

Next steps

Advancing the development and adoption of universal industry standards requires action from leaders to show that competitors can put aside differences and rally around a future that prioritizes relevant industry, public health and safety factors.

Now is the time to meet the moment, converting public attention, concern and awareness of public health risks into a welcome introduction of universal IAQ innovation standards. But we cannot focus solely on issues facing communities today, we must roll out and champion guidelines that put us in a position to evolve and address tomorrow’s challenges as well. These standards should be viewed as a work-in-progress and continuous focus will be required.

The bottom line: people demand clean indoor air. As an IAQ industry, we need to respect and deliver on this fact. And we need to respond to society’s call with dedication, collaboration and efficiency. The optimal outcome: standing up universal industry standards that guide IAQ innovation well into the future and bring all peace of mind.