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BESA welcomes fast tracking of wellbeing standard

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has praised the British Standards Institute (BSI) for deciding to speed up the development of a new standard for measuring indoor environment quality (IEQ).

Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 3003 was championed by engineering firm EFT Consult, which has been working on it for six years. The BSI has now decided to accelerate that work into a full British Standard (BS 40101 Building Performance Evaluation) to be published later this year.

The new standard will closely follow the work already completed by EFT Consult and its partners, including BESA’s Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group, providing guidance on efficient and suitable lighting, heating, ventilation, and minimising the unwanted and harmful effects of air and noise pollution to improve the health and wellbeing of occupants.

The new standard may also provide benchmarks for a Wellbeing Performance Rating that could be applied to any building.

Chris Jenkins, director at EFT Consult and lead author of the PAS, said the BSI’s decision was “good news for anyone who works in an office or regularly visits a building – and that’s just about everyone”.

“Rather than simply being a recommended code of best practice…all of the important recommendations our combined work has highlighted will now be given the full weight of a British Standard,” he added.

BESA chief executive David Frise said that by fast-tracking the PAS work into a full standard the BSI was responding to growing public understanding of the impact indoor environments had on health and wellbeing. He urged the team putting the standard together to be ambitious in the measures they set to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in particular.

“This is an important piece of work because whatever standards we agree now will be applied for many years to come and could have an enormous impact on the health and wellbeing of future generations of building occupants,” said Mr Frise.

“The Association was grateful for the opportunity to support the development of the PAS and is standing by to provide any further assistance it can to those writing the new British Standard.”

BESA said the standard should reflect the latest thinking from around the world including new air quality guidance about to be produced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Union, which is expected to set new air quality targets this year.

Mr Frise added that any measures proposed should also be specific to conditions inside buildings.

“The government’s primary focus tends to be on outdoor pollution, but IAQ is a very different challenge, and it can often be many times worse than the conditions around the building,” he said.

“Our members repeatedly encounter the serious problems caused by poor IAQ and have good practical experience of what it takes to fix it. We have a duty to turn buildings into ‘safe havens’ that protect people from the worst effects of airborne viruses and particulate matter so everyone can enjoy better health and wellbeing.”

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