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BESA eyes new building benchmark for occupant health impacts

Work now underway by BESA to help steer new British standard for determining health and wellbeing of buildings in areas such as IAQ will be a key focus of organisations upcoming conference

BESA has established a special working group focused on understanding health and wellbeing in buildings to help implement a new British standard on quantifying the impacts of conditions such as air quality in the built environment.

The association said it will be work with other partners in the building services sector to support the BSI to outline key areas concerning the design, construction and longer-term maintenance of buildings that may limit negative potential health impacts for occupants.

The building services industry members’ body said there was a growing understanding in the industry of the importance of environmental conditions both inside and outside a building and how they impact work and home life.

BESA said in a statement, “Indoor air quality can be five times worse than outdoor conditions due to the mixture and concentration of pollutants. The focus on reducing carbon is an opportunity to address quality issues in the widest sense and ensure our built environment is reshaped to be fit for the future.”

Concerns over the impact of the built environment on both physical and mental health, and the growing responsibility that will be put on the HVACR sector to address them, will be a core focus of BESA’s upcoming National conference.

The event, which will be held at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London on 21 November, will include a major headline focus on understanding how buildings can directly impact occupant health.

BESA has cited Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics that suggest 3,000 new cases of occupational asthma are diagnosed annually as a reflection of the importance of ensuring health is considered in a building’s lifecycle. The association added that 10 per cent of adult onset asthma can be attributed to workplace conditions meanwhile.

The BESA National Conference event will debate what are the key concerns in setting out benchmark standards focused on health and wellbeing and how they can be impacted by a building and its systems.

Nathan Wood, chair of BESA’s Health and Wellbeing in Buildings Group, said that success within the building engineering sector was largely measured at present on energy performance and how this can contribute to the environment.

He added, “However, growing concern about how the indoor environment affects physical and mental health means we have a much wider social responsibility. Indoor air quality can be five times worse than outdoor conditions due to the mixture and concentration of pollutants.”

“The focus on reducing carbon is an opportunity to address quality issues in the widest sense and ensure our built environment is reshaped to be fit for the future.”

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