Architects, is indoor air quality our next asbestos/


With new homes getting more and more air tight the risk of poor air quality rises. 


Poor air quality had been linked too many health problem, in this post we are is indoor air quality our next asbestos?


Hi, welcome to Watt Design Studio. In this video, I'm going to be asking the question Architects, is indoor air quality our next asbestos? So if that's of interest to you, please watch on.


Welcome to Watt Design Studio. We are M&E specialists fighting against mediocre M&E. We hope you join us on the fight against mediocre. Now, back to Ryan.


Hi welcome back, my name is Ryan and as I said in the introduction, I'm asking the question Architects, is indoor air quality our next asbestos? So firstly, we all heard of asbestos in the past. We know its killed lots of people and caused a lot of problems in the past as well and still is causing lots of problems. What you will be shocked to know is that the first death was recorded in the 1920's and took the Government at least up to the 1990's to ban it as a material to be used. The same this is starting to show with indoor air quality. The World Health Organisation is highlighting that indoor air quality is a big concern. There are many reports saying we are 5 times worse indoors than outdoors. And more shockingly enough, is a lot of new homes and there are academic reports indicating we're not even designing and installing to building regulations. It's now meaning a number of homes are very much unhealthy to live in.


So how come we actually are now in that sort of state. There's a couple of reasons. Firstly, lets go back to building regulations and a bit of a background. So the BRE reckons that you need about half and air change an hour to make a home healthy to live in. So that roughly works out to be an infiltration rate around 5 m3 per hour per m2 of floor area at 50 pascals. And that's where, building regulations have set their targets.


They reckon that most new homes are going to be designed to about 8 and achieve roughly about 8 and that's fine. Most of the fresh air is going to be through filtration and trickle vents can make the top up. But what's physically happening in reality is that we're actually finding its much easier to design and instal properties that are much more air tight than that because we're focussing on energy usage so much but nothing to do with human health. What's happening is that infiltration rates gone down. Building regulations still the same. That means we're having to rely on trickle vents.


There's a huge risk that they aren't getting the fresh air into the space. So how do we actually get that up? Well, obviously what you need to do is try mechanical ventilation. Intermittent extract is not mechanical ventilation. It only provides occasional extract and that's only when its needed when the toilet light is on etc. There are two main sources of mechanical ventilation and that is; Constant extract and MVHR. Constant extract simply means you put a fan that constantly goes and you've artificially increased your infiltration rate. So then you'll be thinking well; "I spent all my money making it so airtight now I'm making it leak like- increasing the leaking-ness of it?" Well that seems silly, so that's why MVHR, which is Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery makes the most sense on all new build properties. What that means is you bring in fresh air from outside and you control that fresh air coming in. And then you take the exhausting air out from inside and run it past a heat exchanger and you can get about 50-80% of the heat energy out of the air and put it into the incoming air. So they're really efficient. On all our projects we recommend them. A number of people are complaining about them being noisy, they don't work and that's not because of the actual product. One study actually said only 16% of MVHRs have been installed. This is because the industry has a habit of not wanting to learn new things. Its nothing wrong with the technology itself, its just the knowledge in the industry. So the key few things you need to do is; make sure that its designed and installed by an appropriate person. The best person to ask is the actual manufacturer or a consultant like myself to make sure that the contractors have the right skills to instal it. We also need to make sure that they appropriately commissioned and put to work as designed. Then we just need to maintain it. There's only a couple of filters that need to be changed occasionally. That will make a much more healthier environment and much more economical in terms of its carbon footprint and all the other solutions. So to help, I've put together a quick look up guide. This is actually been based on Scottish Building Regulations. So we can actually see that actually our regulations are out of date and most likely will be reflecting towards the Scottish way of doing things. They give different options depending on what your infiltration rate is. Basically, We will always recommend the MVHR system on a new build home, there's no reason why you shouldn't have it on a new home. Its effectively your lungs in a building. So I think it costs around $3-5 grand. 5 on a really large project, 3 is about what we'd expect on most projects. And that is the difference between having a healthy home or an unhealthy home. So I know which one I would pick but, its just making sure that people fully understand the risks of not using and MVHR or just at least not reverting back to intermittent extract systems. We fully don't recommend that at all. So if you have any questions, or would like me to run through anything please feel free to get in contact with me. I would be more than happy to help. We want to make sure that we don't have indoor air quality as our next asbestos. So thank you. [Male Voice Over]: Thank you for watching. If you would like to know more about us please visit our website at