Historically, the conversation around air quality has focused on external pollution. However, in recent years, there’s been a drive to shine the same spotlight on indoor air quality. Now, with many of us spending more time indoors, it’s time for building services engineers to fully embrace the concept. In this effort, it’s important to implement measures that can help to create optimal indoor environments.
Long before the Covid-19 outbreak, most of us still spent the majority of our time indoors. In fact, figures estimate that the average person spends around 90% of their day inside. On account of these figures and given the potential for airborne viruses and other contaminants to cause illness and poor health, it’s crucial to ensure efforts are made to properly manage the air we breathe within indoor environments.
Controlling indoor air quality
The air we breathe on a daily basis can have a significant effect on our health and well-being. Public Health England has estimated that air pollution is responsible for between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year, costing the NHS and private healthcare sector £20bn annually. At the same time, indoor air quality also has a pronounced impact on our experience of a space.
Now, with the country looking to rebuild after a difficult period, it’s important to ensure a high level of cleanliness, hygiene and air quality within buildings. In this effort, effective ventilation systems offer one of the most promising solutions to reduce the risk of indoor air quality issues. As such, building services engineers may need to redouble efforts to ensure effective building ventilation in the near future.
Keep things ventilated
Throughout the pandemic, individuals have been urged to keep windows open to ensure a regular source of ventilation within buildings. That’s because ventilation is an effective way to mitigate the risks of airborne illness. However, from an indoor air quality perspective, opening windows is something of a double-edged sword as it also increases the likelihood of outdoor pollution and volatile organic compounds seeping into a building.
Therefore, for building services engineers, the challenge becomes how to achieve effective ventilation while also preventing the ingress of outdoor pollution, as well as extracting water vapour, airborne pollutants and odours from the air. Similarly, there’s also a need to develop indoor schemes that help to control humidity and ensure a constant supply of fresh air to occupants. Thankfully, specialists such as Daikin are able to assist in this effort.
Finding a balance
For building services engineers, it’s also important to consider that in new buildings there’s a need to ensure strong energy efficiency performance. This focus on making a building well-insulated and airtight can help to lower energy bills but can also make it more difficult to create a natural flow of air within a building. In turn, this can lead to low oxygen levels, as well as the increased potential for allergies, odours and a risk of condensation build-up.
Fortunately, it is possible to find a happy medium with careful design choices. To this end, there are now a number of whole building ventilation systems available with various energy efficiency features, such as variable refrigeration temperature control and the ability to reuse waste heat from cooling and refrigeration. By implementing these technologies within design schemes building services engineers can meet the requisite energy efficiency levels whilst still maintaining a clean and healthy indoor environment.
To learn more about Daikin or to read Daikin’s whitepaper, ‘Delivering Good Indoor Air Quality’, visit: www.daikin.co.uk/indoorairquality.