The second annual World Ventil8 Day (WV8D) takes place this week – on November 8th – and will draw a direct link between failure to invest in improving ventilation and serious health problems linked to buildings.
Last year’s inaugural WV8D (#WorldVentil8Day) saw webinars, in person talks, new research, and a range of ventilation experiments carried out on the day demonstrating how good ventilation can reduce exposure to air pollutants and infectious diseases, aid human productivity, improve sleep, and reduce mould and damp in buildings.
This year’s theme is ‘Breathe Better Live Better’ and the organisers plan to demonstrate how improving ventilation systems and raising awareness can address growing alarm over premature deaths linked to IAQ, mould and damp in homes, and other sources of indoor pollutants including smoking and traffic emissions.
For the UK, the political stakes are arguably even higher now with renewed focus on damp conditions in social housing following the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, which prompted the government to introduce Awaab’s Law setting out new requirements for landlords to address damp and mould in social homes. It also reviewed the Decent Homes Standard which will apply to private rented homes for the first time.
There is also growing support for the proposed Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill dubbed Ella’s Law in memory of Ella Kissi-Debrah – the first person in the world to have air pollution recorded as her cause of death.
The Bill was approved by the House of Lords on the 70th anniversary of the Great Smog and has now moved to the House of Commons where it is being sponsored by Caroline Lucas MP. 10,000 people have signed a petition in support of the new law and campaigners are pushing to raise that figure to 100,000 to trigger a debate in Parliament.
WV8D is co-ordinated by the UK’s Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) which is also staging a social media debate involving leading industry, academic and political figures, including Professor Cath Noakes, Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings at the University of Leeds.
Professor Cath Noakes said:
Good ventilation is part of creating a sustainable and low carbon environment, by using technology to balance air quality, energy use and comfort. It is critical to making buildings more resilient to health threats including our regular battles with the transmission of respiratory infections in crowded indoor spaces.
She said it was important for governments to set “realistic but ambitious targets” so the ventilation industry could work towards “fixing this growing public health crisis”.
WV8D recognises the role played by the ventilation companies and engineers who implement the measures and strategies used to make buildings healthier and safer – highlighting the need for training and recruiting more skilled people to take on this growing global task.
The WV8D website includes a range of free resources including ‘top facts’ about the role of ventilation, and different methods that can be adapted depending on the age, design, location, and purpose of the building. It also explains how building operators can manage the complex trade-off between ventilation, energy consumption, climate change, urban pollution, noise, comfort, and security.
BESA will also unveil new guidance for addressing mould and damp in buildings during WV8D. This was produced in partnership with the manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric and follows the three free award winning guides launched last year to help building owners, managers and facilities managers improve their IAQ and turn buildings into ‘safe havens’ from air pollution.