The recent release of the Clean Air Strategy finally brings the government in-line with the HVAC sector in focusing on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Alan Macklin, Technical Director at Elta Group, explains how internal monitoring of our air, combined with better education on the cause of indoor air pollution, can help us to improve IAQ.
The challenge of indoor air quality
Construction in recent years has been geared towards maximising energy efficiency, resulting in modern structures that are better insulated than ever before. This is obviously an important consideration in building works, but the trapping of pollutants produced indoors means it has largely been to the detriment of air quality in our buildings.
The mix of modern cleaning agents and materials present in domestic environments results in a cocktail of chemicals, and the mix is such that we don’t know what kind of effect this might have on the human body. Older houses may be less energy efficient, but the natural materials with which they are made means they are inherently healthier.
An appealing strategy for those tasked with juggling air quality and energy efficiency is to use natural ventilation. This allows external air to flow into the building, essentially recycling air without using mechanical systems. The issue with this is that you are at the mercy of outdoor weather conditions, and a cold day exerts a huge amount of pressure onto heating systems.
It is at this point that intelligent monitoring capabilities become a vital asset in improving IAQ, without sacrificing ambient temperature or incurring extortionate energy bills. Sensors detect alterations in particulate levels, and mitigate the variance by replacing polluted air with fresh air using filtration.
This means that the ventilation system only works as hard as it needs to, providing the ideal compromise between temperature control and energy output, whilst ensuring an improvement in IAQ. There needs to be more of a push towards these methods in both commercial and domestic environments.
The Clean Air Strategy places a strong emphasis on phasing out the most pollutant fuels, seeking to legislate against sale of such materials at some point in the future. Before doing this, we must ensure that there is an affordable and dependable alternative energy supply, but there are small steps that we can currently take towards achieving a healthier indoor atmosphere.
For example, a wider awareness of the dangers of burning wet wood – a major contributor to pollution levels within the home –, would help in improving IAQ. Buying a bundle of wood which has not been properly kiln-dried is far too easy, but if we were to take this issue seriously and talk about it in schools, there is every chance we can change attitudes from the bottom-up.
The Clean Air Strategy, as set out by the government, helps to increase the focus on Indoor Air Quality. If we can maintain this emphasis whilst continuing to provide effective ventilation solutions, we can improve the air quality in our homes and workplaces, and ultimately enjoy a healthier life.
For more information on Elta Fans, and its full range of high-quality air movement solutions, visit www.eltafans.com