New Year, New IAQ Regulations

It seems as if the entire world is tightening regulations around trending ESG initiatives and the indoor environment is no exception to the pattern. Attention to IAQ, a common acronym for indoor air quality, has been increasing in recent years but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated its prioritization to the top of minds for many. There is plenty of data to support the correlation between IAQ and health and productivity. As people become more aware of outside influences on their well-being, companies and buildings are pressured to take a closer look at their indoor environments.

BESA (Building Engineering Services Association) is one leading the charge on new regulations and recommendations. Starting in June 2022, changes are being put forth to improve building health and reduce the risk of viral transmission through aerogenic transmission. Aerogenic transmission is when a virus is transmitted through small airborne droplets. These droplets can travel over than 1.5 metres and can be reduced through ventilation.

But reduced viral transmission isn’t the only characteristic of a healthy building. These new regulations that apply to all new properties also focus on improving humidity, and attaining and maintaining healthy CO2 levels and VOC levels.

Of course, a healthier building is also one that has an eye to carbon emissions. Buildings account for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions and reducing these emissions needs to be balanced with making indoor environments better. For example, consistent air circulation and ventilation via open windows is a great way to improve healthy air levels within an indoor space. However, it also creates an undesirable situation for trying to keep the same indoor environment comfortable without running heating or cooling systems nonstop.

Going too far in the other direction is harmful, too. “It is very good to see, however, that the government has been clear about the importance of not sacrificing ventilation in a bid to cut carbon,” said BESA’s head of technical, Graeme Fox. “There is no point having highly energy-efficient buildings that are harmful to occupant health—a mistake that has been made in the past.” On that same tune, one potential upcoming regulation is replacing conventional windows with trickle vents to ensure consistent airflow.

These challenging elements are not unique in building operations. The lack of centralised monitoring and control as well as a lack of remote control capabilities to tend to issues are quite common for operators. Add to the challenge is an uncertain duration of building occupancy restrictions while cash flow remains reduced and budgetary concerns continue.

Changes in regulations aren’t just for immediate improvements, though. Another part of the June changes is the mandatory installation of CO2 monitors in office buildings. This is an important step towards making buildings ‘net zero ready’ for when the Future Buildings Standard comes into effect in 2025.

In Germany, AIR, the name for the German Committee on Indoor Air Guide Values, has set two indoor air guide values for the purpose of health risk assessment: 

  • Indoor air guide value I (precautionary guide value) describes the concentration of a substance in indoor air for which or below which, according to current knowledge, adverse effects on health are not expected even after a lifetime of exposure.
  • Indoor air guide value II (hazard guide value) is an effect-related value, based on current toxicological and epidemiological knowledge of a substance’s effect threshold. It represents the concentration of a substance in indoor air at and above which immediate action is required. At concentrations above these levels, harmful effects on human health cannot be ruled out with sufficient probability.

Tracking CO2 in the office or other public spaces is part of creating a holistic healthy indoor environment that can keep indoor places within a healthy range. However, performing necessary and routine inspections can take up a lot of time, add costs, and potentially risk the safety of personnel who perform them.

We know the challenges that buildings have now and the increased pressure they’re receiving from future regulation changes. With that in mind, our solution offers remote control while connecting, visualising, monitoring, and tracking operational factors and optimising automation when appropriate. We watch IAQ metrics and integrate them with occupancy, alerts and alarms, and more to give the required information to those who need it when it’s time.

Interested in learning more about what you can start today to be ready for what’s next? Contact us to make your smart building journey simplified.

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