Air quality and air conditioning matters; I’ll say!

Today’s thread: Air conditioning.

Everyone knows air can’t be seen, but just as sure as it can be felt, air can also be conditioned. Fact is, there is more to this whole air conditioning bit than just meets the eye – and skin, way more. Great, but what does any of this have to do with air quality? Plenty. Allow me to elaborate.

When the word-pair air conditioner is mentioned, for most what typically comes to mind is cooling, agreed? But why settle on cooling alone? And while it’s true cooling is one aspect associated with air conditioning, it’s not the only aspect.

In my mind’s eye, the process of conditioning air allows for more than just lowering air temperature. And being that this is the case, the term “air conditioning,” taken literally, should suggest something broader.

Because I am the curious type, I just had to consult the 1984-‘86 California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo college catalog to try to get more perspective on air conditioning. You see, “Air Conditioning-Refrigeration Technology,” was one of the program offerings in the broader “Engineering Technology” curriculum context. Since I attended and graduated from Cal Poly, I decided to choose this catalog to reference. Here is what I discovered, or more accurately, rediscovered.

“Air Conditioning-Refrigeration Technology: Emphasizes heating, ventilation, air distribution controls, building sanitation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems; specifically the areas of modern commercial, industrial and manufacturing system applications utilizing the latest energy conservation techniques.”1

That there description leaves me wondering: okay, why then the “Air Conditioning-Refrigeration” reference. Also out of curiosity, where does “building sanitation” and “ventilation” fit into all of this? Might an “Air Conditioning-Building Sanitation-Ventilation Technology” categorization reference have been more fitting in this particular instance?

Expanding upon this notion a bit further, in the context of air conditioning systems, heat exchangers, vaporizers, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, ionizers and evaporative coolers, should all be considered relevant here. It all applies. Even ordinary fans could be considered air conditioning devices, although that might be a stretch.

So, while true, air conditioners and air conditioning is often thought of in the context of “cooling,” we now know better that that thinking is narrow.

In the final analysis, when all is said and done, there is a lot to be said regarding the conditioning of air. It isn’t just about cooling anymore. And that changes everything.

Oh, and by the way, as for all this air “conditioning,” just in case you’re wondering, it affects air quality. Was there ever a doubt?


  1. Engineering Technology Department “Air Conditioning-Refrigeration Technology” curriculum option, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo [California] CATALOG 1984-1986 ISSUE, p. 200.

– Alan Kandel