Return to Journal

Why clean air is the new must-have for renters and buyers

Optimal Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has become a must-have for renters and buyers entering the new world of COVID-compliant properties. The pandemic has raised awareness about the importance of good IAQ, and clean air has become a priority for those looking to rent or buy a property.

A range of new requirements are rising to the top of the agenda, including the implementation of air-filtration systems, access to ongoing air quality monitoring, and certifications to prove that certain air quality standards are being met. It is clear that developers need to take steps to ensure that their properties have good Indoor Air Quality, and that they can then communicate this to both renters and buyers. 

We all spend a great deal of time within our homes, and over the past months, many of us have spent more time there than ever before. It is therefore vital that we are living in a safe and healthy environment. This is particularly the case for those of us who may be more vulnerable to poor IAQ, including children, the elderly, and those with existing medical conditions. 

We often become very attached to our homes, investing significant amounts of time, money and effort into making them safe and comfortable places to live. Furthermore, for both owners and tenants, housing tends to be our biggest financial outlay each month. As we start to acknowledge the value of good IAQ, clean air is undoubtedly going to become a factor to be considered when choosing a property. 

An important consideration is the location of homes and the existing external air quality. Renters and buyers may be interested in whether a property is located within an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA), or close to a major source of pollution such as a busy road.

It is also advisable to avoid the internal build-up of pollutants wherever possible. Construction materials, fittings and finishes with a low air quality impact should be used in order to avoid unsafe levels of VOC and formaldehyde emissions.

A simple step to optimise IAQ is to provide a Home User Guide to help occupiers understand how to establish and maintain good internal air quality.

Another cost-effective option is to use air-purifying paint such as Airlite. This environmentally friendly paint actively purifies the air by attacking and neutralising pollutants and microbes, providing an efficient way to improve air quality that is significantly cheaper than green or living walls.

In an extensive survey performed by the World Green Building Council in 2016, 46% of building owners said ‘healthy’ buildings were easier to lease, whilst 28% reported that they could command premium rents. In another report on ‘Health and Wellbeing in Homes’, a survey found that 90% of renters and buyers said they wanted a home that didn’t compromise health and wellbeing, and 30% of them were willing to pay more for homes that filled these criteria. It seems likely that these figures will be even higher now, as air quality has continued to rise on the agenda in recent years. Consequently, it is imperative for developers to take steps to create healthy spaces in order to attract and retain tenants.

An important consideration is the location of homes and the existing external air quality. Renters and buyers may be interested in whether a property is located within an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA), or close to a major source of pollution such as a busy road. If properties are located near a pollution source, it is essential for the buildings themselves to act as buffers against the outdoor environment, and for them to be orientated with openings and outdoor spaces away from pollution sources. 

It is also advisable to avoid the internal build-up of pollutants wherever possible. Construction materials, fittings and finishes with a low air quality impact should be used in order to avoid unsafe levels of VOC and formaldehyde emissions. A simple step to optimise IAQ is to provide a Home User Guide to help occupiers understand how to establish and maintain good internal air quality. The first two years of a building’s operation are the most important in terms of VOC emissions, as this is when the effect of fittings and finishes is the strongest.

With the changes driven by COVID, we have adapted quickly and are already using Airlite to combat the spread of bacteria and viruses and improve air quality across our portfolio.Jo Adams, Lead Interior and Workplace Designer, Bouygues UK

Another cost-effective option is to use air-purifying paint such as Airlite. This environmentally friendly paint actively purifies the air by attacking and neutralising pollutants and microbes, providing an efficient way to improve air quality that is significantly cheaper than green or living walls. The paint can be applied on any typical surface inside or outside to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria and mould, reduce air pollution by 88.8% and neutralise odours.

Bouygues Construction is a great example of an organisation who have realised the potential to maximise air quality through their partnership with Airlite and offer safer surfaces. Speaking of the partnership, Jo Adams, Lead Interior and Workplace Designer, Bouygues UK, said:

“With the changes driven by COVID, we have adapted quickly and are already using Airlite to combat the spread of bacteria and viruses and improve air quality across our portfolio in the education, residential and healthcare sectors, helping to protect our clients, employees and all who use the buildings we operate.”

One major challenge we face in the UK is that of balancing the need for more airtight, energy-efficient houses with the need for adequate ventilation. We need to ensure that homes are not only energy-efficient but also provide optimal ventilation rates for good IAQ. If the provision of fresh air at a sufficient rate to dilute and remove airborne pollutants is not possible via natural means, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) or mechanical extract ventilation (MEV) could be considered. However, there needs to be a robust maintenance plan in place for mechanical systems, particularly those containing filters which require regular cleaning and replacement.

Whilst limiting sources of indoor pollution and increasing ventilation can have a significant impact on your air quality, using air purifiers can also help to remove unavoidable pollutants. With constant advances in air purification technology, there is now a range of devices that can help to clean the air in homes. It is clear that air filtration is becoming increasingly popular, and it has recently been cited as the new luxury property must-have a for renters and buyers.

As renters and buyers become increasingly aware of the importance of good IAQ, developers and landlords will be incentivised to take steps to ensure they are offering healthier indoor spaces.