The initiative – supported by professional and trade bodies, universities, and environmental groups worldwide – aims to raise awareness of ‘the vital role played by ventilation in supporting people’s health, well-being, and productivity’. The World Health Organization (WHO) says exposure to poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is directly linked to 3.8 million premature deaths worldwide every year. 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 demonstrating 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.
Last year’s messages were picked up over five million times on social media networks in 30 countries. The website attracted over 15,000 visitors from 75 different countries, and print media coverage reached 382 million across 12 countries. This year, more events are planned worldwide, as the focus on improving air quality grows internationally.
For the UK, the organisers of #WorldVentil8Day say, ‘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, with 10,000 people have signed a petition in support, and campaigners pushing to raise the 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.
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. Produced in partnership with Mitsubishi Electric, the guidance’s launch follows last year’s publication of three free award-winning guides to help building owners, managers ,and facilities managers improve their IAQ and turn buildings into ‘safe havens’ from air pollution.