Specialists from the heating, ventilation and air conditioning sectors are calling for stricter standards to improve health and wellness in buildings, to legislate in areas such as indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal comfort and humidity.
The informal group of trade bodies includes the European Heat Pump Association, REHVA and the European Ventilation Industry Association. They want mandatory requirements to cover both new and existing buildings with clear targets to improve the health of occupants and drive energy efficiency.
With HVAC at the forefront of innovation in areas that impact directly on wellbeing and efficiency, the move by influential trade bodies in the sector has the potential to create significant change. Members have stated that control and automation systems coupled with human-centric design could bring major health and productivity benefits.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) believes air pollution and contaminants contribute to the deaths of 120,000 Europeans a year and we have talked previously on our blog about the focus from HVAC manufacturers to recruit more people with an understanding of Indoor Air Quality. Recently, the WHO set stricter global guidelines for limiting exposure to poor air quality and there is clearly a real appetite to go further.
An open letter from the trade bodies involved, calling for new standards, said: “These requirements would be met through the implementation of currently available technologies in the fields of ventilation, cooling, heating, daylight and electric lighting, air-conditioning, dehumidification, plumbing, and building automation and controls.”
Other recommendations include setting requirements for inspecting technical building systems, introduction of a smart readiness indicator (SRI) to rate buildings on their capability to introduce new systems for monitoring and training, certification and upskilling to make sure the HVAC and building sectors are working together seamlessly to maximise health and wellbeing.
The topic of regulation is a hot one in the construction world at the moment. Gabriela Guizzo, project director construction at HB Reavis UK, says: “Fewer than 1% of UK new non-domestic buildings have achieved BREEAM Outstanding. 0.3% of UK WELL registered projects are certified Platinum. It’s not good enough. More must be done to educate people on why these certifications matter, from what they mean for the good of the planet to the good of the individual.”
She suggests: “Perhaps there’s a perception that gaining top accreditations for buildings is a little like collecting medals for your trophy cabinet. But that’s not the case. These are a set of meaningful guidelines and practices that will shape the world we leave to our grandchildren.”
With pressure mounting to make the built environment safer at the same time as tackling climate change, we expect to hear more about raising standards and putting measures in place to make sure these new goals are being achieved.
You may also be interested in our article about how Covid-19 has reinvented the ventilation sector.