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Up in the air. By Greg Davies from BIFM's Sustainability SIG and director of market development at Assurity Consulting

04-04-17, 13:50

Air quality, both internal as well as external, has long been a subject of discussion, if not conflict for FM. While it surrounds us, identifying whether the air we are breathing is 'fresh' or polluted has been for many a matter of opinion.

Issues associated with indoor air quality (IAQ) can vary from temperature, carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOC) to conditions such as allergic rhinitis that can be caused by pollen, micro-organisms and dust.

Externally, the global context of greenhouse gas management is now a well-established subject in sustainability reports as well as a source of national and international regulation.

If recent press reports are to be accepted, UK carbon dioxide levels, at 381 million tons, are now at their lowest since 1894. However, concerns over city pollution and, in particular in the UK, levels of nitrogen oxides are coming to the fore.

Again recently reported in the press, a number of locations across London have already breached EU annual nitrogen dioxide (N02) levels (the hourly limit of 200 micrograms of N02 per cubic metre of air limit is only permitted to be breached 18 times in a year under current EU rules). N02 is produced as a result of fossil fuel combustion.

For our buildings the wellbeing agenda is also seeing a renewed focus on the indoor environment, with air quality and occupancy comfort being two interrelated and key facets for success.

Positively they contribute to both wellbeing and productivity, but negatively, be it dust, gases, micro-organisms, temperature, relative humidity, noise, light or airflow ? and in combination as well as individually ? they can cause more than just a little dissatisfaction for users.

The Department for Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced it will consult on a revised Air Quality Plan by 24 April 2017. What is your plan for gathering reliable independent performance information on your indoor environment?

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