Carl Fivash, Technical Services Manager at ventilation specialist Zehnder Group UK:
The announcement that the European Commission has made a last minute decision to include indoor air quality (IAQ) into its Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is a welcome sign that finally, health is on the agenda when it comes to IAQ. It’s an issue which seems to be gathering momentum, but with the consultation period on the Government’s draft air quality plan ending on the 15th June (which also happens to be the first ever National Clean Air Day), the emphasis is still on outdoor air, and it’s time we shone the spotlight on indoor air as well. IAQ is crucial to well-being and health. We spend more than 70% of our time indoors, so the quality of air in homes, workplaces, schools and hospitals needs to be regulated with more stringent and controlled assessment of ventilation methods. Right now, the NHS is spending upwards of £600m on the impact of poor quality housing for treatment of stress and asthma, so there is a knock-on effect on the economy as well.
By working more closely with the construction and building services industries, there are a number of measures that can be put in place. IAQ targets could be the first step, but the focus should be on the entire supply chain and ensuring that from plan to site, the quality of build and installation of materials is of high quality, otherwise the occupants of the home won’t see the benefits.
It’s vital that whatever action is taken, we ensure that both new-build and redevelopment projects are implementing robust and effective ventilation strategies that contribute to health and well-being. The inclusion of IAQ in the EPBD is a positive first step, but this needs to be backed up by vigilance and commitment throughout the building services industry to push this issue through and bring about genuine and effective change.