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A first: air quality considered in construction

From 15th June 2022, a change to Building Regulations 2010 will come into effect. For the first time, air quality monitoring will be regulatory for the design and construction of non-domestic new builds in England. Specifically, the change means that CO2 will need to be continuously monitored.

The aims are to:

  • Ensure ventilation is appropriate to reduce the risk of condensation and indoor pollution
  • Secure the health and safety of the building’s users or occupants

What is the new regulation called and what does it mean?

It’s officially called Part F of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2010. As it’s being phased in, it won’t apply to work subject to a building notice, a full plans application or an initial notice submitted before 15th June 2022, provided the work is started on site before 15 June 2023.

From 15th June, to abide by the new rules, building designs must consider ventilation from the outset. Construction work is always inspected by an approved building inspector at different stages of the works to ensure compliance.

What are building regulations?

Most building work undertaken in England must comply with rules set out in Building Regulations 2010, made under powers in the Building Act 1984.

The intention of building regulations is to ensure safety and best practice in domestic and commercial construction and renovation work.

What if building regulations are ignored?

The local authority has the power to prosecute, enforce an unlimited fine and can impose rectification of the work for up to two years following its completion. As ventilation work happens during the earlier stages of construction, making adjustments following completion is extremely costly. Those responsible for building work include agents, designers, builders, installers and the building owner.

Thoughts from AirRated’s CEO, Francesca Brady:

“This is a great step forward – there are no two ways about it. But perhaps we could have set our standards higher.
As these types of reviews and changes are conducted so infrequently, it may have been wise to mandate the monitoring of additional parameters such as humidity, TVOCs and particulate matter. While CO2 should certainly be monitored to optimise cognitive function and virus control, these other factors impact our health directly, making them inherently more dangerous.

The mandatory requirement for mains-powered CO2 monitors is understandable and the scientist in me thinks this is a great move. However, the market has created such demand for battery-powered sensors from providers over the past few years, that it might be a commercial pain. I can see it causing an issue for some solution providers and those who have invested in pure battery-powered sensors.

And while all of this is generally a step in the right direction, it is stated that for all new buildings, CO2 monitoring is a requirement. What about existing stock! It’s time to get all buildings up to scratch.”

Read the full government-approved document, which goes into detail on the incoming changes.