A new guide that aims to be the blueprint for improving indoor air quality has been published by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), completing its trilogy of guidance on improving ventilation within buildings.
‘Buildings as Safe Havens – a practical guide’ is the third in the leading trade association’s suite of guidance for measuring, monitoring, and improving indoor air quality (IAQ). The latest guide, produced with the support of Mitsubishi Electric, aims to helping building owners and facilities managers protect occupants from health risks linked to airborne contaminants and viruses.
The new guide directly addresses air quality in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, providing a step-by-step strategy for monitoring and maintaining good IAQ in offices, schools, and public buildings, with advice and strategies for dealing with ventilation problems. It also contains a list of targeted questions that can be put to ventilation experts to establish the right strategy for the building, as well as recommendations for conducting a building review, planning for improvements, and selecting the right technology.
The contents of the guide were steered by a technical committee led by Nathan Wood, Chair of BESA’s Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group, and the association’s Head of Technical Graeme Fox.
“Most buildings do not have any active ventilation management,” said Wood. “At the top end of the market, the issue is well understood, and expertise is on hand to put best practice into effect. Our priority now is to find ways of helping the thousands of buildings that have no ventilation strategy and lack the information and expertise to prepare for the next health emergency. That is why BESA is working hard to raise awareness and provide free guidance that can improve competence and compliance across the ventilation industry and broaden the pool of ventilation expertise to take on this massive task.”
The foreword to the latest guide was provided by Professor Cath Noakes OBE, who is Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings at the University of Leeds and a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). She states that poor ventilation is the most overlooked building safety issue and can be directly linked to high levels of Covid-19 transmission.
Writing in her foreword, she commented: “Covid-19 has been shown to be transmitted through the air. Even if only 10% of all Covid-19 related deaths in the UK could be directly attributed to the failure to adequately ventilate indoor spaces, that would be more than 15,000 since the start of the pandemic – a shocking statistic that should make everyone sit up and take notice. The pandemic has demonstrated that far too many of our buildings are under-ventilated, despite regulatory requirements that have been in place for several years. This guide will be an invaluable tool in raising awareness of the importance of good IAQ and making our buildings more infection resilient.”
Hern Yau, a ventilation product specialist at Mitsubishi Electric, added that the pandemic had emphasised the importance of ventilating indoor spaces.
“This guide will help contribute to a greater understanding of the type of equipment available, as well as encouraging more productive conversations about what can be achieved in our buildings in the long-term,” he added. “It also reinforces the importance of building managers only working with properly trained and competent IAQ specialists.”
BESA guides on IAQ can be downloaded from here.
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