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HEATING, VENTILATION & SERVICES Indoor air quality: W


ellbeing and the creation of ‘healthy’ homes are topics that have recently gained considerable traction within architectural circles, highlighted by the introduction of the WELL Building Standard and Fitwel certifications. Indeed, last summer RIBA published its ‘Wellbeing In Interiors’ book, further showing what a hot topic this is. As well as striving for better standards, the increased focus on this topic is also in part a reaction to the poor current state of our buildings. A recently released Healthy Homes Barometer report has placed the UK 21st out of the 28 EU countries in a scale of healthy homes and has estimated that ‘unhealthy’ homes will cost the EU €55.6bn over the next 40 years. It is therefore clear that standards need to improve. Emphasis is, quite rightly, placed on measures increasing the flow of natural light, retaining heat and energy and on smart products. However, ventilation is a key area that, although it has been on the radar in other European countries for some decades now, often gets overlooked in the UK. Indeed a Healthy Homes Government White Paper published in 2018 stated that 65 per cent of UK homes suffer from poor indoor air quality.


What’s more vital to wellbeing than the air we breathe?


Studies have shown that a family of four produces an average of 14 litres (24 pints) of water vapour each day. And with the introduction of Passivhaus, and modern buildings being increasingly airtight, this brings with it issues such as condensation and mould which can exacerbate, or even cause, health problems such as asthma, stroke and cardiovascular issues. It is therefore vital that any healthy home design includes plans for the consistent, year-round provision of clean fresh air, ideally via mechanical ventilation.


67


the key to a healthy home


Patrick Calvey from Siegenia looks at the importance of air quality within buildings, and the role ventilation has to play in wellness


Why mechanical ventilation should be considered


While trickle vents are reliant upon the air pressure differential, mechanical units provide controllable fresh air ventilation and, unlike natural ventilation methods such as the opening of windows, modern mechanical systems can filter out pollen,


carbon, coarse and fine dust and NOx particles from exhaust fumes. Furthermore, the sustained provision of fresh air can help to prevent damage to the building structure and windows caused by damp and mould, thereby decreasing future maintenance costs. They also negate other disadvantages of natural ventilation in terms of security, energy wastage, and noise pollution in busy areas. Noise pollution is another big topic to consider in plans, as it can have similar detrimental health effects to poor air quality, including heart problems and


ADF JANUARY 2020 WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


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