A growing awareness of the risks posed by airborne pathogens inside buildings has sparked demand for more specialist indoor air quality (IAQ) expertise in the HVAC and building engineering sector.
What is an IAQ expert?
IAQ is a dedicated field that considers the air inside buildings and how HVAC and building engineers can work together to make buildings “safe havens”.
IAQ experts calculate the air quality and consider what factors are at play. The data they produce can be used by building owners, managers and engineers to create a safer indoor environment.
Why has it become so important?
Chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance, who became a household name during the pandemic, has highlighted the role ventilation and IAQ in managing virus outbreaks. The British Medical Association insists that legal standards for ventilation are crucial for public health and that financial support is needed to help businesses and organisations upgrade the ventilation of their buildings to create a safe environment.
According to BESA (Building Engineering Services Association) good IAQ can “improve productivity and enjoyment of a space and supports the principle that people should be able to inhabit ‘safe havens’ where the indoor air is better than the polluted outdoors.”
How is air quality measured?
Indoor air quality is influenced by the amount and quality of outdoor air entering a building and the pollutants that are generated inside. Air quality data can be gathered using various monitoring devices. A well maintained HVAC system is seen as an integral part of any strategy to guarantee clean air and a “safe haven” indoors.
There are a number of certification schemes for buildings relating to IAQ and there is a growth in demand for IAQ expertise to support property developers and organisations in achieving these accreditations. In addition, new professional-grade calibrated instruments are coming on to the market which can be interpreted by IAQ specialists on behalf of businesses. Technology, such as Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) systems, can also be implemented to reduce energy consumption and maintain healthy ventilation levels which can be measured and controlled.
Calls have been growing for some time for tougher guidelines on indoor air quality and you can read more about this in our article Scientists call for shift in approach to airborne risk in buildings. Legislation and guidance would increase the need for qualified IAQ specialists.
You may also be interested in our blog about how Covid-19 has reinvented the ventilation sector.