By Gilles Marchand, Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport, Quebec
Quebec has published a best practice guide to maintaining ventilation systems, aimed at the physical resources managers of the network of school boards. This 64-page document, which is tailored to the school environment, is now available in PDF format on the Quebec Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport (MELS) website at the following addresses:
Why this guide?
In light of the importance of maintaining ventilation systems, MELS and the Quebec Federation of School Boards agreed to develop and make available a document which is tailored to schools and establishes best practice in this area. The aim is to ensure that all participants in the education system:
Are conscious of their responsibilities.
Are aware of the importance of maintaining ventilation systems.
Know the basic principles applicable to air quality and ventilation systems, as well as the legal obligations which must be met.
Regularly perform the simple tasks which guarantee the healthy environment essential to quality learning and user satisfaction.
A working committee composed of people responsible for physical resources in this field was set up in order to produce a simple tool designed to ensure maintenance which would guarantee indoor air quality and the traceability of the operations performed. Pierre Gastaldy, engineer and former Director of Physical Resources for the Grandes-Seigneuries school board, carried out the preliminary research and drafted the document.
The guide recommends an ideal library, which should be put together by those responsible for maintenance before any problems arise, because not all necessary documentation is available online and free of charge over the Internet. In an emergency, in particular in the case of water damage, action must be taken within 48 hours; ready access to the relevant information is therefore crucial.
How is this guide different?
The design of ventilation systems and indoor air quality in general are deliberately not covered. Instead, the guide addresses aspects which are more specifically linked to the maintenance of these systems in schools, identifying, whenever possible, that which is a legal obligation in Quebec or a standard which is often consensus-based.
One of the guide’s original design features is that it can be used online, providing direct access, through Internet links, to more than 100 authoritative references. In addition, users have only to click on the different entries in the table of contents to gain easy access to the relevant pages.
The guide aims, above all, to be an efficient tool for building managers. In this regard, another original feature is the structure of most of the tables, which can be read at three different levels, depending on the degree of detail required. The first column provides some general reading, outlining a number of key concepts; the second column offers more details for those who want to find out more; and the third column provides access to a maximum number of references.
The subjects covered include:
The laws and regulations, standards, guides and guidelines.
Preventive maintenance – a matter of common sense, from the design stage onwards.
The golden rule: don’t mix dust and humidity.
The parameters to monitor.
The minimum frequency of maintenance recommended by the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and the desirable frequency of maintenance, adapted from the guide produced by the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
Common problems relating to the legislation and suggested best practice.
The ideal library, as well as bibliographical references and Internet addresses.
The guide also includes standard specifications for cleaning ventilation systems, a sample inspection checklist and a comparison of the effectiveness of different filtration systems (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value versus previous rating systems).
In addition, a few pages are dedicated to advice for schools which do not have mechanical ventilation systems.
Although this guide is primarily aimed at schools, any building manager could find it useful.
For more information, contact:
Directeur de l'équipement scolaire
Quebec Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport