International air quality expert Distinguished Professor Lidia Morawska, in liaison with facilities management at QUT, is developing a protocol to undertake air quality auditing within the university’s facilities.

Prof. Morawska says the assessment aims to ensure excellent air quality, which would ensure a lower risk of infection of airborne viruses including COVID-19, as well as other benefits for QUT staff and students.

“Better air quality means lower concentration of indoor generated pollutants, in particular carbon dioxide, which means better performance and better health,” says Prof. Morawska.

The assessment will investigate how ventilation across QUT can be improved, implement any required changes to existing buildings, and develop a set of guidelines for ventilation design in new QUT buildings. It will also assess the current levels of ventilation within QUT buildings and benchmark that against contemporary research in ventilation regarding the spread of airborne pathogens

“This is about analysing the indoor air quality, of which ventilation is a critical factor, and monitoring it in different spaces and under different loads,” Prof. Morawska says. “We hope this process will be a model for other organisations to follow.

“The air conditioning system across QUT already has the ability to monitor air quality in real time, but the complexity is in analysing air quality in multi-zone areas, and with surges in the traffic flow of people at different times.

“We will be monitoring the air quality in a real-world situation. This is a model of collaboration between researcher and the facility management engineer practitioners, and through both areas of professional expertise will ensure excellent indoor air quality.”

Professor Morawska began assessing air quality on buildings across the Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove campuses in the second half of 2021, developing a practical auditing protocol for air quality performance in air conditioned spaces.

The first stage of the review has identified sites for pilot studies to verify testing protocols.

Prof. Morawska says the start of semester one, with students and staff on campus after the holiday break, would now allow complete monitoring of air quality in the pilot study sites. She also noted the need to assess air quality when rooms are at maximum occupancy, as well as over different seasons.

“We are working toward the longer goal of ensuring the air quality across all QUT building is excellent,” Prof. Morawska says.

The air quality protocol will continue in semester two this year, with ventilation design concepts to be adopted in all new and refurbished QUT buildings. The protocol will also identify strategies for rectifying air quality in any non-compliant buildings.


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