Clean Air in Buildings Challenge


For Building Owners And Operators

The following sections of the US EPA’s Clean Air in Buildings Challenge serve as a checklist to improve the safety and health of all occupants within your building(s). The primary difference between the EPA’s version and the following sections is SMACNA identifies when it is most appropriate to work with a professional on Clean Air in Buildings Challenge item

Create An Action Plan for Clean Indoor Air In Your Buildings that assesses IAQ, plans for upgrades and improvements, and includes HVAC inspections and maintenance.

Do It Yourself

  • Implement other IAQ assessment approaches such as carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors as needed. 
  • Support the people who operate or help with building and air distribution systems by providing continuing education and training. 

Optimize Fresh Air Ventilation by bringing in and circulating clean outdoor air indoors.

Do It Yourself

  • Run HVAC systems during all occupied hours to ensure clean air enters and is distributed throughout the building. 
  • Ensure that exhaust fans in bathrooms are functioning and set fans to run during occupied hours. 
  • Adjust HVAC settings while considering thermal comfort, humidity, outdoor air quality, and energy use. 
  • Open operable windows, as weather, outdoor air quality, occupant safety, and HVAC systems permit. To the extent possible, enable cross-ventilation by opening windows and doors at opposite sides of the room or building.
    • Note: Opening windows while running HVAC systems may increase energy costs or introduce other air contaminants.

Enhance Air Filtration and Cleaning using the central HVAC system and in-room air cleaning devices. 


  • Select devices that are appropriately sized for the space in which they will be used. Consider ENERGY STAR certified products. If noise is a consideration, look for a product with lowest perceived sound levels. 
  • As a temporary measure, do-it-yourself air cleaners can also be built from HVAC filters and box fans.
  • Increase ventilation and/or filtration in areas with higher emission of airborne particles and aerosols (e.g., gyms, cafeterias, or choir/music rooms at schools). You can make adjustments for these areas by: 
    • Increasing the volume of clean, outdoor air delivery. 
    • Using portable air cleaners. 
    • Setting up extra exhaust ventilation to move air directly to the outside. 
    • Consider an upper-room Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) system to clean the air.
      • UVGI systems require professional design and installation, in consultation with experts.

Get Your Group Engaged In your Action Plan by communicating with building occupants to increase awareness, commitment, and participation in improving indoor air quality and health outcomes. 

  • Communicate to affected people (e.g., building occupants, workers, students, teachers, and parents) about how the action steps you are taking will improve indoor air quality and reduce disease transmission in your building. 
  • Show your work, and the work of your contracted HVAC experts, by hosting building walkthroughs, posting descriptive signage, or communicating on social media. Demonstrate the importance of individual actions to ensure facility operations are optimal (e.g., keeping ventilation systems clear of clutter). 
  • Provide feedback mechanisms such as maintenance requests to identify repair issues and surveys to gather perspectives from your community. 
  • Remember individual actions and layered prevention strategies remain important measures for reducing the spread of viruses like COVID-19.
  • Consider a regular service agreement with your HVAC experts to routinely service and monitor the air systems in your building.


How does the challenge seek to accomplish its goals?

The EPA believes that these strategies outlined above, along with other mitigation techniques, can improve the health of all building occupants and maintain an elevated level of safety for a long time to come. 

In addition, there are other steps that the government is taking to enhance IAQ throughout the country, including:

What resources are available to contractors to promote the goals of the Challenge?

Funding through the American Rescue Plan.

The EPA and CDC have made several resources available in guiding local and state governments through the process of the Challenge.

IAQ Guidelines for Occupied Buildings Under Construction

The Guideline covers how to manage the source of air pollutants, control measures, quality control and documentation, communication with occupants. It includes example projects, tables, references, resources, and checklists. Methods to identify and remediate lead, asbestos, or other materials that are classified as hazardous materials are not intended to be within the scope of this standard.