The new Standard includes an evaluation and rating system for air quality, lighting, thermal comfort, and acoustics. BESA explains that the evaluation will ‘give building managers a benchmark score to help them identify areas of below par performance so they can plan improvements and include IEQ measures in any retrofit and renovation work to improve the health and wellbeing of occupants’.
Swansea-based environmental and building services firm, EFT Consult, played a key role in the standard’s creation, ‘laying the groundwork; through its development of a publicly available specification (PAS 3003) prompted by the 2015 Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act.
EFT, a member of BESA’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) group, was developing the PAS with the British Standards Institute when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, highlighting the role played by poor quality indoor environments in the spread of viruses and other airborne contaminants. BESA explained: “As a result, BSi decided to fast-track and elevate the PAS to a full British Standard. The standard was also partly inspired by the widespread realisation that building retrofit work carried out to improve energy efficiency had, in many cases, led to poorer quality ventilation.”
To meet the new standard, organisations will need to tackle conditions that have a direct impact on human health, including humidity, and excessive levels of CO2, CO, NO2, volatile organic compounds (VOC), airborne particulates, and mould.
“The launch of BS40102-1 marks a major milestone in the assessment and improvement of indoor environmental quality in the UK,” said EFT, chair, Dave Kieft. “We are proud to have played a key role in the development and delivery of this new standard, and are confident it will make a significant contribution to the health, wellbeing, and productivity, of building occupants worldwide.”
Several other members of the BESA IAQ Group were invited to provide input into the standard, and stressed the importance of following the latest World Health Organization (WHO) guidance on air quality – updated in 2021 to reflect the findings of five years’ extensive research which revealed that particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) harmed human health ‘at even lower concentrations than previously understood’.
As a result, the WHO advised its 194 member countries to consider air pollution as big a threat to human health and wellbeing as climate change, and adjusted almost all of its previous maximum target levels for airborne pollutants downwards.
“This new British Standard is an important step forward in our ongoing battle to get the government and building owners to focus more attention and investment on the indoor environment,” said BESA IAQ Group chair, Nathan Wood. “Setting IEQ performance benchmarks will make it easier for facilities managers to target problem areas and demonstrate how conditions directly affect health and productivity. However, we must continue to keep pushing standards upwards, as current government targets do not reflect the latest WHO guidance and lack real ambition. In time, we also hope to see the BS being tightened up to include the more stringent 2021 WHO guidelines so we can start making real inroads into the IAQ problems that threaten the health of building occupants up and down the country.