Increased calls for clearer practical guidance and the setting of specific indoor air quality (IAQ) contaminant targets to support the health and wellbeing of building occupants have led to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) launch of a guide to good practice: ‘Indoor Air Quality for Health & Well-Being’.
BESA’s document is designed to help building owners, managers and engineers interpret IAQ data and turn it into useful strategies for improving the indoor environment. The guide is intended to be a follow-up to the BESA publication H&W001: A Beginners Guide to Indoor Air Quality published in March 2021 in collaboration with Mitsubishi Electric.
The UK’s chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance and the British Medical Association (BMA) have emphasised the role of building ventilation and IAQ in helping the country navigate the next stage of the pandemic. The BSI is also fast-tracking a new British Standard that will help to define the UK’s future approach to IAQ.
The new BESA guidance, which is part of the Association’s wider Buildings as Safe Havens (BASH) campaign, sets out target limits for a range of airborne contaminants in a variety of indoor spaces. It explains how air quality data gathered during specialist surveys or from the wide range of low cost real-time and continuous IAQ monitoring devices, can be interpreted and acted upon.
The BESA Guide was produced in the wake of a report commissioned by the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, which highlighted the importance of building ventilation in reducing the risk of Covid-19 and other infections.
Nathan Wood, chair of the BESA Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group, said this was a significant moment for anyone working to improve the indoor environment.
“People now need reassurance that buildings are being adequately ventilated, and the air monitored to minimise the threat from contaminants and viruses. This new BESA Guide aims to do just that, but it also goes further”, he said.
“Rather than purely focusing on preventing infection and death, which is often the approach of academic and regulatory work, it also promotes a positive approach to setting IAQ standards that will give people a healthier, more comfortable, and more productive experience inside buildings.”
He pointed to research carried out by Harvard University in the US that showed a 61% improvement in cognitive function for students in a well-ventilated, clean environment.
“The outdoor, ambient air pollution guidance levels adopted by governments are usually based on mortality and morbidity, tempered by what is regarded as economically feasible. That compromise reduces investment in the health and wellbeing benefits,” concludes Mr Wood.
The guidance can be downloaded for free here.
Find out more from BESA on airborne contaminants.
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