Air quality in our buildings is a growing area of focus.
In 2021 leading scientific and medical experts are lending weight to calls for a greater emphasis on indoor air quality (IAQ) in buildings, from our homes to schools, offices and factories.
A recent report commissioned by the UK government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance and lead by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) suggested that the importance of ventilation in buildings has often been overlooked in the past.
Good ventilation is not only about preventing virus spread but also about supporting wellbeing and productivity.
As we see more returning to the office, now is the time to take a close look at ventilation
Industry organisations are also working to raise awareness about the importance of good IAQ – and how to deliver it through building services.
For example, Mitsubishi Electric and the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) have produced a Beginner’s Guide to IAQ.
The government is taking notice of what the industry is saying. As a result, proposed updates to Part F 2 (non-dwellings) of the Building Regulations are underway.
These proposed updates include a requirement for IAQ monitoring in offices with CO2 monitors (or similar). They should also provide a ‘visual indication’ of CO2 concentration and show that ventilation systems are working correctly.
Solving the engineering challenge
For engineers, the challenge of introducing outside air into a building is that the process impacts energy use and occupant comfort.
When outside air is cold, bringing it into the occupied space means turning up the heating – and increasing energy use. Engineers must balance these two factors.
Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) is often a suitable answer for this issue. The Mitsubishi Electric’s Lossnay range for example, simultaneously extracts stale air from a building and supplies fresh, filtered air.
And while doing this, the units will simultaneously recover valuable heat energy for optimum efficiency. The Lossnay system uses a paper core to transfer the heat energy without mixing the air flows.
Mitsubishi Electric recently extended its Lossnay range to introduce the new LGH-RVS-E, a commercial MVHR system that incorporates a new plastic core for heat recovery.
So it's an ideal solution for humid environments such as bathrooms and wet rooms.
Easy to integrate
We are likely to pay more attention to ventilation in the next few years, particularly in buildings with no mechanical ventilation (or systems requiring refurbishment).
With this in mind, we have also ensured that the new Lossnay commercial MVHR unit is easy to integrate with our Mr Slim and City Multi air conditioning systems. This makes them ideal for clients who are installing or specifying a ventilation system for the first time.
Mitsubishi Electric’s LGH-RVS-E also comes equipped with two plug-and-play CO2 sensors with no separate power supply required. One also includes a simple traffic light system to show CO2 levels in the space.
We increasingly recognise the benefits to occupants of good ventilation, and today’s building services technology can help deliver this while also balancing our need for energy efficient buildings.
As we see more people returning to their workplaces and schools, now is the time to take a close look at ventilation systems and modernise them wherever possible.
Hern Yau is a ventilation specialist at Mitsubishi Electric