The tidal wave of information regarding mold and moisture began at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Winter Meeting in Chicago. The public session "Residential and Small Building Humidity and Mold Control" offered insights from experts in residential A/C system design and installation, microbiology, medicine, law, and insurance. Contractors attending the session were able to learn about the damage mold can inflict on their physical and fiscal health, as well as how to prevent excess moisture through proper equipment sizing.

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA), and Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association (PHCC) summed up the current developments for their members. Those organizations weren't alone; it seems each association had discussions centering on mold, moisture, and HVAC solutions at its respective convention.

More than a few states introduced bills that would require testing or other qualifications, as well as registration or licensing, of mold detecting and mold remediation companies and individuals. As a result, contractors in these states worked to ensure that HVAC contractors, plumbers, and electricians would not run afoul of the proposed laws if they found or cleaned up small patches of mold during a normal service and replacement work.

At the 2003 Annual Meeting of ASHRAE, six industry associations formed a mold and moisture task force. Representatives included (from left, clockwise) Ray Patenaude of The Holmes Agency, Mark Menzer of ARI, John Saucier of ACCA, Don Colliver of ASHRAE, Mark Kerney of MCAA, Jack Desmond of SMACNA, and Andy Nolfo of NEBB.
At the 2003 Annual Meeting of ASHRAE, members of six industry associations - SMACNA, ACCA, ASHRAE, MCAA, the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), and the National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) - gave position statements in which they offered support for regulatory activities in general from ASHRAE and the federal government for standards and regulations regarding mold. At the end of the session, the six groups formed an industry task force, which could possibly expand with membership from other associations. Preventing mold problems is a shared responsibility among all groups, said then ASHRAE president Donald Colliver, Ph.D.

At the same ASHRAE Meeting, papers were presented on the "Effects of Unitary Cycling on Unitary System Performance." The researchers explored moisture loads from unitary air conditioners, asserting that system run times are an important contributing factor to the latent load. Fan operation in humid climates was also pointed to as contributing to the moisture load.

Finally, the research showed that in any North American climate, even though the evaporator coil continues to provide cooling after refrigerant stops running through it, it does not provide latent cooling. The moisture is re-entrained into the airstream. The researchers also speculated on system changes that could result from the study's findings. One suggestion was that unitary systems be modified to pulse on and off, like auto A/C systems.

The Institute for Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) developed Standard S520, otherwise known as the Mold Remediation Standard. IICR said it wanted to provide a "standard of care" for the many industries involved in mold and moisture remediation, including HVAC contractors. It uses the term "fungal ecology" to describe the mold content of a particular area.

Acknowledging that we live in - and have always lived in - a fungal ecology, the standard describes varying degrees of the ecology and provides input on situations that may or must require remediation. In addition to references, definitions, and principals of remediation, the standard provides information on contractor qualifications, safety and health concerns, and structural and HVAC remediation. The standard was also designed to provide information on inspections and preliminary determinations.

Publication date: 12/29/2003