The Importance of Air Quality

 

Never has there been a time when the quality of the air that we breathe is more in the spotlight. The recent global pandemic has brought this subject up for review, but air quality in buildings has been an increasing issue for years. There is a lot of press around the drive to reduce outdoor air pollution, and rightly so. But the average person spends 92% of their life indoors – so you can see the importance of focusing on indoor air quality.

Measures that we discuss here have their application to Coronavirus, but equally they apply to other illnesses that spread every year – common colds, stomach bugs, influenza etc.

Air quality isn’t just about minimising risks – there is scientific evidence that better air quality leads directly to higher performance, greater concentration levels and long-term health benefits.

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Ventilation

 

Ventilation is often confused with air conditioning. Ventilation is the actual cycle of stale air being replaced by fresh air from outside the building, as opposed to air conditioning which simply cools the air within a building. It is perhaps alarming to realise that a lot of offices do not comply with basic ventilation requirements, resulting in poor air quality and the associated risks of this.

"There is no denying that the single most effective way to minimize risks of air-borne germs and maximise productivity, is to increase the level of ventilation in your building."

Ventilation can be natural – through open windows for example, or mechanical – fresh air drawn in to the building with ventilation equipment. Both have their place, but the key thing is that there is simply enough fresh air being brought into the building, based on its use and the number of occupants.

There is allowance within Building Regulations in the UK for buildings with opening windows as a source of ventilation. However, in practice what we see is the windows rarely being opened, and the air conditioning system circulating the same stale air! This, coupled with buildings that are ever more air-tight due to the pressure to make them more efficient, is a recipe for poor air quality, leading to low concentration / performance of the workers in this space as well as high risk of spreading airborne germs.

MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) is an effective way to make sure that ventilation and air conditioning work hand-in-hand for the most efficient solution. In this application, up to 80% of the temperature of the outgoing air is recovered and transferred to the incoming fresh air, keeping the building at a comfortable temperature and helping reduce overall energy costs. It works equally well in winter and summer.

Speak to Salix for a FREE consultation around the level of ventilation that you currently have and any changes that you may need to consider.

 

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