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Kevin Wilcott looks at the role of service and maintenance regimes in maintaining wellbeing

The proposed Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill marks a new high-water mark for concern about air quality in the UK.

Whether Ella’s Law, as it’s known (named for the young girl who tragically died from pollution-related illness), is passed by Parliament in 2023 or not, there can be no doubt that the public is more aware than ever that clean air matters.

Regular and focused maintenance is needed to ensure IAQ standards in a space do not drift.

Kevin Wilcott Kevin Wilcott Business Development Manager (Service & Maintenance)

Right to be concerned

People are right to be concerned. The air you breathe affects every part of your body, from your lungs to your heart and brain.  The World Health Organisation (WHO)  identifies several serious long-term Illnesses associated with poor air quality,  including lung conditions from asthma to cancer; heart disease; Alzheimer’s disease; and inflammatory conditions.

As building services professionals know, outdoor air is rarely ‘fresh’ air, and the pollutants found in busy streets and city centres make their way into our offices, homes and schools.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is in many ways more important than outdoor air since we spend so much of our lives indoors here in the UK.

Campaigning for IAQ

Mitsubishi Electric has campaigned with the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) to produce guidance for building managers and installers to help them understand IAQ and to deliver solutions. 

There are two guides available, with the Buildings As Safe Havens (BASH) Guide, including the key steps to take in reviewing the air quality in a building.  

A beginner's Guide to IAQ is also available to download for free.

We have also developed mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems (MVHR) that deliver excellent indoor air quality while optimising building energy efficiency – a constant balancing act that engineers face.

But installing energy efficient systems is insufficient to maintain good indoor air quality.

The new Part L (2021) requires indoor air quality monitoring in occupied spaces.

Along with monitoring, regular and focused maintenance is needed to ensure IAQ standards in a space do not drift.

Financial and practical benefits

There are, of course, long-term financial and practical benefits to good maintenance practice.

For example, today’s HVAC and chiller equipment is built to last but needs regular service and maintenance. Without regular service and maintenance, equipment will degrade faster.

A system performing at less than its best will cost more to run and reach its end-of-life sooner. Mitsubishi Electric Service & Maintenance experts are dedicated to preventing this from happening.

For example, maintenance is crucial for occupant wellbeing when it comes to the systems that support the indoor environment in an office. This is where the Service & Maintenance teams can provide end-to-end support and maintenance for all HVAC and chiller systems.

Better for longer

A robust maintenance strategy can tackle the dual challenges of IAQ and energy efficiency and ensure they are delivered in harmony. HVAC and chiller systems running at optimum efficiency can help reduce a building’s overall running costs and carbon emissions while maintaining a great indoor environment.

Maintenance also makes it less likely that you will need to employ short-term solutions (such as office fans that do not help IAQ) or replace your equipment before extracting maximum operational and financial value from it.

A growing number of organisations view IAQ as a priority that matches energy efficiency and ESG (environmental, social, governance) issues for impact on the business.

What’s more, a report in Facilitate magazine noted that “multinational corporations feel growing pressure to incorporate (these issues) with their building operations”.

Adopting planned preventative maintenance (PPM) can be essential in delivering on all three objectives.

And the financial aspects must not be overlooked. A sound service and maintenance strategy will pay for itself. Equipment will perform better and last longer.

Significant benefits

And if we factor in the delivery of good IAQ, then the benefits are significant.

For example, poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to occupant symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.

And in the annual flu season, good ventilation, which is well maintained, can reduce the spread of illness that leads to costly staff absences and under-performance.

Mitsubishi Electric Service & Maintenance can help clients tackle the growing number of targets and objects that businesses today face.

Our expertise in HVAC systems means that we can work with you to focus on your objectives and help to deliver working environments that are safe, productive – and optimised for efficient operation.

Kevin Wilcott is Business Development Manager (Service & Maintenance)