Indoor air quality assessment to BREEAM standards

What is BREEAM?

BREEAM stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. When a building is built or has undergone extensive restoration, it is important that the sustainability of the building is assessed, rated and certified. 

In this instance we were invited to a redevelopment site in Brighton. The site is a six-storey redevelopment of an existing building. The building has been fully redeveloped including the internal floors, building core and the partition walls. The building consists of six floors with open plan offices. The toilets and welfare facilities are situated on the North side of the building. The offices have raised metal floors, plasterboard finish to walls and ceilings.

Indoor air quality assessment to BREEAM standards

Carrying out an assessment of the indoor air quality

When our surveyor arrived on site, he took note of all environmental factors such as; the temperature and the relative humidity. The outside temperature was 15°C, the relative humidity outside was 54% and the atmospheric pressure was 1013 hPa. He then took measurements of the temperature and the humidity levels from the north, south and centre of each floor inside the building. Inside the building the temperature ranged from 16.5°C to 18.5°C. The relative humidity inside the property ranged from 63.5 hPa to 66.3 hPa. 

Our surveyor also needed to collect samples for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and formaldehydes. In order to collect these samples he required the use of Casella/Gillian personal samplers which were fitted with TENAX anasorb thermal absorption tubes and SKC 226-119 glass tubes. The samples of Volatile organic compounds were then analysed by Thermal Desorption Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry and the samples of formaldehyde were analysed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in a laboratory. 

Indoor air quality assessment to BREEAM standards

What did air monitoring reveal?

The results of our air monitoring assessment revealed that the indoor air quality in regards to the concentration of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) met the requirements set out in the HEA 02 document entitled Indoor air quality. The concentration of volatile compounds in the indoor air only exceeded the permissible maximum limits, set out in the HEA 02 document entitled indoor air quality, in one location throughout the building. The area in which the concentration of VOCs exceeded the recommended limit was in the centre of the sixth floor. 

We recommend that a pre-occupancy building flush out is carried out on the sixth floor in accordance with the indoor air quality plan (IAQP) for the development. No other remediation measures are necessary in order to reduce the concentration of indoor air contaminants in the remaining areas of the building. 


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