With poor indoor air quality now recognised as a major factor underlying occupant health issues and reduced productivity, it has become an important consideration for building design and management.
Poor indoor air quality can be the result of external pollutants entering building interiors, use of pollutant emitting building and cleaning materials, damage or poor maintenance of HVAC systems or the decay of interior building elements. Such indoor air pollution has now become associated with ‘sick building syndrome’ which can be a combination of ailments resulting from poor indoor air quality. This might include irritation to eyes, nose or respiratory systems, headaches, nausea, fatigue and in some cases may include potentially fatal symptoms.
While UK legislation has minimum design requirements and guidance on ventilation systems, BREEAM has comprehensive assessment criteria by which to ensure good indoor air quality. These include:
- the specification of materials with low pollutant content and emissions.
- minimum design criteria that provide fresh air and prevent the ingress of external pollutants.
- CO2 sensors to ensure a balanced indoor air composition.
- a preoccupancy building flush out to rid spaces of pollutants emitted during construction.
- limits and air quality tests for specific indoor pollutants.
- measures to remove, control and dilute pollutant sources.
- design and strategies to ensure that buildings can be completely naturally ventilated.
The proper application of the above measures will ensure that indoor air quality is maintained throughout a building’s lifecycle. If you have a new development and would like advice on indoor air quality and the relevant BREEAM credits, feel free to contact one of our expert team.