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New CIBSE Air Cleaning Guidance Considering COVID

14 September 2021

Two new pieces of guidance on reducing COVID-19 transmission through ventilation and air cleaning technologies have been issued by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).

The new guidance reinforces CIBSE's message that good ventilation is essential to reduce occupants' exposure to airborne pathogens, including COVID-19, influenza and the four endemic human coronaviruses that cause common colds. It's also important to note that ventilation alone often isn't the only challenge in ensuring indoor air quality (IAQ), as city pollution contaminants are both brought in and expelled out. We looked into how the former affects health, and the ways FMs can manage this multi-faceted issue with modern filtration.


Advancing Building Design


The CIBSE guidance follows their contribution to the Royal Academy of Engineering's report, published in July, on how to augment the infection resilience of buildings through improved management, maintenance, and ventilation as well as through improved design standards in the future.

Commissioned by Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, the report calls for clear, consistent communication and advice on ventilation from government and professional bodies to help building owners and operators manage Covid-19 infection risks.

The CIBSE guidance on ventilation and air cleaning technologies aims to provide advice to building owners and operators on how they can act to reduce the risk of airborne infection. 

BESA said the problem was that many buildings were designed in a way that made it very difficult and sometimes cost-prohibitive to fit the systems needed to achieve adequate ventilation. It said the government should link its ambitions for climate change mitigation and sustainability to work on ventilation and overheating in buildings and consult with all parts of the engineering and construction sectors to get a joined-up solution.


Appropriate Air Treatment Depending on Space


In well-managed new buildings designed to current regulations, ventilation rates are likely to be effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. In older buildings, it may be difficult to assess the effectiveness of ventilation so CIBSE's COVID-19 Ventilation guidance now includes advice on the use of CO2 monitoring. High levels of CO2 indicate poor ventilation and show where further measures are needed to improve air quality.

For spaces where all efforts to increases ventilation fail to provide sufficient ventilation to dilute and remove airborne pathogens then air-cleaning devices may be an option for removing or inactivating contaminants in the air – as aforementioned, this also addresses the concerns that the fresh air from outside is not of a high enough standard in the first place. 

CIBSE's guide COVID-19: Air Cleaning Technologies has been written to provide both lay-readers and ventilation specialists with the knowledge to assess the variety of air cleaning devices currently marketed for the removal of SARS-CoV-2, and to discover whether any air cleaner will effectively reduce transmission risk in a space.

The guide is divided into two parts. The first summarises what is currently known about air cleaners and makes general recommendations about selecting such devices. It provides advice on whether a device is likely to be effective in a particular situation. EnviroKlenz provide both wall-mounted and independently wheeled military-grade filters that employ their multi-layer passive sterilisation technology, whereas Cleanzair provide an active cleansing process for particles in suspended a room's air, so there are multiple options depending on the suitability for an installation.

The second part offers more detail for building services engineers, facilities managers and others involved in the provision of ventilation. It gives guidance on measuring airflow, pollutant levels and the rate of decay in contaminant levels. It also provides a tool for assessing the potential performance of air cleaners in particular applications.

Picture: the cover of the new CIBSE guidance pdf.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 14 September 2021


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