Jan. 18, 2019

Take a deep breath and enjoy the award-winning air quality circulating through UCalgary's facilities

Clean and safe air contributes to a healthy teaching, learning and research environment
The facilities operations and maintenance team at the University of Calgary. Front row, from left: Stephen Zelmer, Ken Brewer, Robb Nesbitt, Rob Schultz, and Travis Simington. Back row, from left: Kent Fowler, Graham McPhee, Shane Hubl, and Dale Wollbaum. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
The facilities operations and maintenance team at the University of Calgary. Front row, from left: S

Next time you’re walking through the Taylor Family Digital Library, take a moment to pause, breathe deeply and appreciate the clean air that’s helping to create a safe and healthy atmosphere on campus. 

The University of Calgary was recently awarded National Air Filtration Association’s Clean Air Awards for several facilities on campus, including the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) and the Child Development Centre. The university also received renewal certificates for the Clean Air awards won in 2017 for Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, Crowsnest Hall and Aurora Hall, extending the certification through 2019.   

“Although easily overlooked, clean and safe air is a key element to a healthy campus community,” says Shane Hubl, senior manager, Facilities Maintenance. “Air quality can impact productivity, health and even students’ grades, making it hugely important to provide the best possible environment for them to achieve their learning potential — we operate at this level for our students, faculty and staff.”

Clean, quality air helps protect research and artifacts

With climate extremes like the ones we often see in Calgary, keeping the air quality maintained across the university’s 70-plus diverse buildings and facilities is no small feat. Each season can present unique challenges, like managing ice and frost buildup in the winter that can plug filtration, adding or removing humidity, or combating poor outdoor air quality like with the smoke we saw this past summer.

Beyond providing a comfortable environment, air quality and conditioning can impact the integrity of research artifacts, and our library collections across campus.

“When we’re talking about research, deviation from one or two degrees could potentially throw off years of work,” says Hubl. “We put a lot into caring for our research spaces and labs.”

Air quality can even influence whether or not art exhibits visit UCalgary — in some cases, air circulating through buildings must meet a set quality standard for an extended period of time before some exhibits will agree to display their precious artwork on campus. 

Whether supporting research or housing artwork, new or old, all facilities on campus receive the same attention and professional service thanks to the collaboration of many teams across Facilities, including Operations and Maintenance, Campus Engineering and the Office of Sustainability, as well as the university’s external partners.

Clean Air Awards recognize leadership, commitment to best practices

The Clean Air Awards recognize leadership and excellence in air filtration as well as the commitment to professional maintenance practices using the best equipment and materials available. The awards are presented annually for outstanding efforts in maintaining a clean and healthy indoor work environment while reducing overall operating costs.

“Receiving the Clean Air awards is an indication of Facilities’ commitment to providing best-in-class professional and technical services to our campus community,” says Hubl. “It’s gratifying to be recognized alongside other award-winning institutions such as Harvard University and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts; it tells us we’ve set the bar at the right height.”