A grouping of HACR specialists is calling on European authorities to set out new legal standards on factors impacting health and wellness in buildings such as IAQ and Thermal comfort
Industry specialists working across the ventilation, heat and air conditioning sectors are calling on the EU to mandate stricter standards relating to the quality of indoor environments and air supply.
Appropriate levels of indoor air quality, along with ensuring sufficient lighting, thermal comfort and humidity are realised in buildings are among the major concerns that European authorities are being asked to tackle with new mandatory requirements for both new and existing buildings.
The calls have been made in an open letter from the Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Gathering. This is an informal grouping of trade bodies that includes the European Heat Pump Association, REHVA and the European Ventilation Industry Association amongst others.
Members of the group argued that both the EU’s renovation Wave Initiative and proposed revisions of its Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) provide a clear opportunity to set out clear targets for indoor environmental quality. These targets are intended to create a range of benefits for occupant health and wellness, as well as overall energy efficiency from buildings.
The group stated, “By making the most of an appropriate indoor air quality, human-centric lighting, acoustic, thermal comfort and control and automation systems, the health and well-being of the occupants will be improved, and productivity gains delivered.”
Air quality is cited as a one of the major concerns behind the IEQ Gathering’s calls to set higher standards for how IEQ is defined and enforced in buildings. The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europe in 2015 attributed air pollution and contaminants to the deaths of 120,000 Europeans a year. The issue has more recently been put under the media spotlight by coverage and research into the potential for airborne transmission of Covid-19 in indoor environments. This has been followed by the setting of stricter global guidelines for limiting exposure to poor air quality by the WHO in September
A need for a Europe-wide focus on renovating existing buildings with an eye on indoor environmental quality and energy efficiency looking is a major aim of the IEQ group’s campaigning. It therefore cited 2017 research from the Buildings Performance Institute Europe think tank that concluded that 97 per cent of EU buildings need to be renovated with regards to their energy efficiency performance.
To begin to address these concerns, the grouping of industry bodies is calling for mandatory minimum requirements to be introduced by 2025 concerning the monitoring, evaluation and reporting of different IEQ parameters. This should include providing occupants with easy to understand information and data on where a property is failing to meet the target values.
An open letter calling for the new standards said, “These requirements would be met through the implementation of currently available technologies in the fields of ventilation, cooling, heating, daylight and electric lighting, air-conditioning, dehumidification, plumbing, and building automation and controls.”
Any decision to introduce these IEQ requirements, for example as part of European energy performance directives, was expected to drive demand for ventilation, air conditioning and air treatment systems, the group added.
Its other recommendations include:
Publication of requirements for inspecting technical building systems and ensuring indoor air quality, thermal comfort and lighting technologies are all included in his
The introduction of an improved smart readiness indicator (SRI) to rate buildings on their capability to introduce new systems for monitoring and managing major contributors to IEQ and health
Incentivised training, certification and upskilling for building specialists and engineers around the effective design of various systems that impact IEQ factors linked to health and wellbeing.