Blog: Ventilation and the Future
World Ventil8Day is a world wide campaign aimed at recognising the importance of ventilation and the impact it has on our health and wellbeing. So can air ventilation really deliver a healthier future?
With autumn in full swing, and winter on the horizon many commuters are steadily phasing back to life in the office, it feels – dare we say it – that a feeling of normality has returned. The 'new normal' post-pandemic.
But how are people really feeling about returning to the office, does the future of the workplace need to offer more than just a desk to help staff to be their best. What else contributes to a healthy, happy, and motivated workforce?
Out of the headlines the future of ventilation in a Covid world and beyond is lively with lots of discussions and an interesting flurry of publications and statistics associated with the topic of indoor air, air pollution, its quality, and how it impacts our health.
There is no denying Covid intrinsically changed the way we manage and view our indoor environments and public spaces. The acknowledgement that ‘airborne’ transmission was a major transmission route for Covid from the World Health Organisation, (WHO) was a game changer. It shone a bright light on the importance of ventilation.
However we have known this for a long time, we must not forget that poor ventilation is the catalyst for a variety of other ambient issues which impact health. Without proper ventilation, humidity, CO2, germs, and indoor pollution sources build up and can damage our physical and mental health.
When Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) decreases, the risk of symptoms increases
When Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) decreases, the risk of symptoms and illnesses increase. These include ailments such as fatigue and lack of concentration, headaches and allergies, increased stress and colds and flus.
When a building is affecting its occupants like this, it is often referred to, medically, as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). Generally, it is linked to poor ventilation and indoor air quality, but lighting and sound can also contribute to the symptoms it generates.
To decrease the risk of suffering from SBS, it’s important to maintain and improve indoor air quality and ventilation is essential.
We need to get people thinking about health and wellbeing not just comfort
In a world where we often spend a large proportion of our time indoors, around 90% according to a report by Opinium (a leading Insight Agency), it seems only right that we should expect access to clean, quality air. In the same way we expect a building to cool us on a hot day and warm us on a cold one.
We need to shift our mindset beyond the comfort factor. We need to get people thinking about health and wellbeing and how important clean and well-ventilated air really is in our everyday lives.
The advice to schools, offices and other public buildings is to continue to keep their buildings well ventilated - for many this will mean keeping windows open as much as possible. This method will rarely provide the air change rates needed. It is totally weather and temperature dependent and not an ideal solution as we head into the winter months. It also makes no consideration for external pollutants and noise and the cost of heating a room with the windows open!
Improving the quality of the air we breathe
The government’s SAGE advisory group called for ventilation to be “integral to the Covid-19 risk mitigation strategy for all multi-occupational buildings.” This is good news, but we must not forget that ventilation isn’t just for pandemics. The general health and wellbeing benefit it can offer society is, potentially, far greater. Improving the quality of the air we breathe inside our buildings will ensure the overall health and wellbeing of our population.
With so many social, political, and economic challenges going on in the world right now, it is very easy for the topic of ventilation to slip down, or even off, the agenda. But we can’t let this happen, we need multiple professions, including health, science, engineering, and government colleagues to collaborate together. We need to keep championing good ventilation and address the important role it has to play in our overall health and wellbeing every single day.
Health and wellbeing
If you are interested in delivering higher levels of satisfaction with an environment or lower rates of absence from work or maybe you are looking for better quality of sleep or reducing exposure to a wide range of air pollutants, a good ventilation system is key. Get in touch with the team at firstname.lastname@example.org and they'll happily answer questions about the benefits of ventilation for health and wellbeing.
About the author
Barry Hobday is the Managing Director at Motorised Air Products (MAP). With the help of innovative research, MAP and its associated suppliers are committed to using pioneering product design and technology to provide unique solutions in air ventilation.