Consultant

Nuaire’s Hughes: The critical role of ventilation is often overlooked

From improved wellbeing to increased ROI, Philip Hughes, International and Industrial sales director for Nuaire, shares how the right ventilation solutions can transform projects

Today’s buildings are complex structures made of concrete, glass, metal and much more, but there’s one thing they all contain – air. It’s the most abundant substance on Earth and in our projects, on average making up about 96% of a building.

If our buildings are comprised mostly of air, then surely, we must ensure it’s the freshest air possible. The air we breathe may be intangible, however, it is deeply linked to health, well-being and sustainability in our indoor environments.

So how can we ensure fresh and healthy air in our buildings? Ventilation. When it comes to maintaining high indoor air quality, the right ventilation solutions not only mitigate risks, but also protect people and our planet.

The critical role of ventilation is often overlooked. As humans, we spend about 90% of our time indoors and given the pandemic, this figure could be even higher. However, people often don’t realise indoor air can actually be 50x more polluted than outdoor air.

Whether in homes or commercial buildings, indoor pollutants stem from many sources. Damp or humid indoor environments breed bacteria that pollutes the air. Smoking, cooking and using aerosol products are other common contributors to poor indoor air quality.

Over time, these pollutants become trapped in our indoor environments and long-term exposure to them can cause serious health issues including asthma and other respiratory infections. In commercial or mission-critical spaces, such as malls or hospitals, poor indoor air quality is not only critical to life, but it can have devastating consequences for property owners and developers. Health issues provoked by poor indoor air quality can be a liability, they can cause companies reputational damage and also lead to closures, which directly impact the bottom line.

This is where high performing ventilation solutions come in. The role of ventilation is to ‘refresh’ the air in our spaces by diluting and displacing indoor air with fresh air from outdoors. It also helps to rid buildings of moisture, smoke, odours and indoor air pollutants, helping to create safe and healthier spaces.

What’s interesting is that the best ventilation goes unnoticed. If a system is performing well, it will maintain comfort in our indoor environment. If it fails, however, we are inconvenienced with foul odours and toxic leaks. Poor ventilation systems can result in harmful health issues such as sick building syndrome (SBS). SBS is increasingly common in the region; it is a health condition that causes the building’s occupants to experience symptoms of illness caused by the space in which they work, learn or live. Symptoms can range from eye and nose irritation to chronic wheezing or headaches.

Ventilation plays an important role in our buildings. On a day-to-day basis it removes air-born pollutants to freshen air and keep us healthy and comfortable. In an emergency situation, it can be vital to life safety. When building fires occur, flames, smoke and gases can spread throughout the building. Smoke extractor fans are a type of ventilation solution that extract smoke fumes long enough for people to evacuate the building and reach safety. These fans are manufactured and tested to withstand high temperatures to allow reliable operation under emergency conditions.

Evidently, ventilation is essential in protecting life inside a building. Selecting the right ventilation solution is a vital consideration to ensure reliable operation when needed at the most critical of times. That’s why we shouldn’t compromise, but instead, find the best solution to ensure the most efficient performing product for any given situation.

In my experience, following many at Nuaire, a prerequisite for any modern building is to ensure that the highest quality, application-specific solution is used. This approach optimises the system for performance and delivers reliability with increased operational life span. The result is reduced maintenance or replacement costs down the line, which essentially increases the ROI on your ventilation system.

Adopting both accredited and tested systems is another way you can ensure high-performance and peace of mind. Working with accredited manufacturers ensures the requisite quality and compliance with local regulations.

Due to COVID-19, the way we use our buildings has changed. Consequently, so has the way we build them. The construction industry has shifted to increasingly focus on health, wellbeing and sustainability at every stage of the supply chain, with efforts to support the relationship between our health and our spaces.

In the region, organisations are increasingly adopting a human-centric approach to construction. In fact, the recent national agendas in the GCC have outlined measures for effective resource management, increased green spaces and enhanced transportation networks.

These initiatives all aim to elevate quality of life. The idea is to create spaces that do far more than shelter or house us, but actually support sustainable development in our cities. The right ventilation solutions can deliver improved energy efficiency and high performance, helping to create safe, strong and sustainable spaces that support a vibrant and modern human lifestyle.

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