APPG meeting – Healthy Homes and Buildings, 07/12/16

Simon Corbey attended an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Healthy Homes and Buildings, chaired by Jim Shannon MP, the DUP Spokesman on Health and Transport….and by coincidence, ASBP member Tom Woolley’s local MP. The event was supported by BEAMA, with talks from Sani Dimitroulopoulou, Public Health England; Professor Tim Sharpe, MEARU and HEMAC; Lee Nurse, BEAMA and Mark Allen, Technical Director, Saint Gobain.

I was pleased to see many of our Healthy Buildings Conference and Expo speakers in attendance, including our Gold Sponsor for the event, David Evans MBE, with his new service, The House Doctors; Carla Jones, CEO, Allergy UK; Lynne Sullivan, LSA Studio; Tom Woolley, Rachel Bevan Architects and  Mark Allen, Saint Gobain, plus many of our colleagues from UKIEG; Derrick Crump, Isabella Myers, and Derek Clements Croome.

Sani summarised the Royal College of Physicians report, Every Breath We Take, which urges greater scrutiny of indoor air quality. She described the role of Public Health England in developing the BB101 standard for ventilation, thermal comfort and IAQ in schools with the Education Funding Agency. Consultation on how BB101 should deal with IAQ has recently closed with updates expected early in 2017. Sani reminded us of the NICE IAQ process, with a stakeholder meeting arranged for 9/1/17 in Manchester. You are encouraged to register as a stakeholder.

Tim described the tension between energy efficiency, increasing air-tightness and ventilation. However in the bedroom, perhaps the priority area for ventilation, this is actually less of an issue. He summarised research which found that trickle vents did not provide background ventilation and that residents do not interact with them and tend to close them and leave them closed. He detailed one study with Cartwright Pickard Architects where only one unit out of 40 tested displayed good ventilation rates. Please see Health Effects of Modern Airtight Construction (HEMAC) for much more detail. Tim updated us that the Scottish Regulations now require CO2 monitors in the master bedrooms, with improved handover guidance on ventilation for residents.

Lee suggested that ventilation should be a controlled service, like gas and electricity. He proposed improved guidance for Part F, with more monitoring to test performance and introduced BEAMA’s My Health My Homes campaign and website. He suggested that sensors can inter-react with ventilation systems.

Mark Allen – who is speaking at our Expo – suggested that we are at the beginning of a long journey, away from cost is king to putting occupants first. He suggests the business case for commercial premises has been well made with links to increased productivity, but less so with homes.

Leigh George from Allergy UK informed us that they receive 700 calls a month to their helpline and that contributory factors include pets, building products, beauty products, cleaning products, curtains and furnishings.

Tom Woolley pointed out that ventilation is not the answer to good IAQ on its own but must go hand in hand with source control and specification of healthy products. I suggested that the chemistry was complex but that testing was easy and cost effective and that we must all do more. There was a general consensus that we need more monitoring to build the evidence base in the UK. David Evans mentioned his new venture, The House Doctor, of which IAQ testing is an integral part.  He informed us that they are part of a study with Imperial College London to supply a minimum of 10,000 data sets over four years, which is also going to have a PHD assigned to the study.