Recently we were called to look at the indoor air quality of a building construction site and implement a BREEAM air quality plan to keep the property safe. It was our job to come up with a plan that could keep the indoor air quality safe during the design, construction, and handover of, the building extension. The building was located in Newham and is current designated as an Air Quality Management Area, exceeding the limits set in the national air quality strategy for PM10 (Particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter) and Nitrogen dioxide. In the surrounding area there are many natural sources of PM10 with Sahara dust and sea salt as two main sources. However, Nitrogen dioxide in London is mainly caused from the combustion of fossil fuels. Retail and administrative buildings in close proximity to a railway line surrounded the site.
IAQ plan & Removing Contaminants
The first step of our plan was to address removing contaminants. As part of our HEA-02 air quality plan, we suggested that an IAQ representative conduct orientation sessions with constructions workers and supervisors. In these sessions, the IAQ rep would review goals surrounding the plan and ensure that workers were aware of what to do. Under this plan, construction workers were required to reduce the generation and distribution of indoor air pollutants and to take action to improve the overall air quality. We recommended that waste paints and sealants be sent off site when not in use.
IAQ plan & General ventilation
The next part of our strategy was to improve the general ventilation of the premises. We suggested that all rooms be ventilated in accordance with the minimum air changes as specified in CIBSE Guide A. Next we suggested that operable vents and windows be opened during application of interior finishes. Where needed, ventilation would be complemented by the use of fans, duct extensions and filters.
IAQ plan & Cleaning for Air Quality
The final step was to implement a regular housekeeping schedule. Wherever dust was found, we advised the use of low-odour wetting agents and sweeping compounds. In addition, any spills or water or solvents would need to be cleaned up immediately. Similarly, spills or water or solvents will need to be cleaned up immediately. At this stage we recommended that time be dedicated to cleaning hard-to-reach surfaces such as wall cavities, tops of doors, ledges and behind water closets.
BREEAM Air Quality Plan
Our indoor air quality plan aimed to ensure that the indoor air quality was acceptable by handover time. By removing contaminants, general ventilation and a cleaning schedule, the workers would ensure that the building was safe for inhabitation. Many building sites can find the indoor air quality declining after work has finished due to the build up of contaminants over the building process. By implementing a cohesive plan to address the build up of contaminants, we ensured that the indoor air quality was maintained to a high standard.