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Report Highlights Role of Ventilation in Building Safety

The recently published “Infection Resilient Environments” describes an urgent need to monitor and improve the ventilation in public buildings as a key element in the fight against COVID-19.

Commissioned by the Government Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, the project lead was The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) with CIBSE one of the key contributing organisations.

The report suggests that the importance of ventilation has too often been overlooked, despite a number of studies demonstrating a close connection between ventilation and sleep patterns, productivity and respiratory infections. The significance of aerosol transmission of COVID-19 has pushed the subject to the top of the agenda for building safety.

In preparing the report, RAE conducted a series of interviews with representatives from a wide range of organisations, uncovering significant lack of awareness, understanding and skills when it comes to the design and maintenance of an adequate ventilation strategy..

“Infection Resilient Environments” sets out a roadmap for addressing the situation, looking at a programme for addressing skills gaps together with further research to better understand the relationship between ventilation and viral spread.

The report underlines the fact that adequate ventilation standards are already required by building regulations – the problem lies with implementation.

CIBSE’s Technical Director Hywel Davies, a key contributor to the document, points to the urgency of action. “This paper outlines a significant programme of work.  While this happens, we need to be sharing practical advice in a clear and accessible format immediately to help limit indoor transmission of COVID-19.”

CIBSE’s own Emerging From Lockdown guidance documents and a soon-to-be-published Guide to Covid Air Cleaning form part of the Institution’s activity in this area.

The full “Infection Resilient Environments”, published on 16 July 2021 by the Royal Academy of Engineers, can be downloaded from here.