The importance of ventilation

Timur Uzbjakov,
Area Export Manager,
Vallox Oy,

As we are returning now to normal working life and schooling, we need to be sure that buildings function in the best possible way against the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any other epidemic. Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) has published a guidance document on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 in workplaces. The scope is limited to commercial and public buildings (e.g., offices, schools, shopping areas, sports premises, etc.) where only occasional occupancy of infected persons is expected.

There is already evidence on COVID-19 airborne transmission and general recognition of long-range aerosol based transmission. This has made ventilation measures the most important engineering controls in the infection control. While physical distancing is important to avoid a close contact, the risk of an aerosol concentration and cross-infection from 1.5 m onward from an infected person can be reduced with adequate ventilation and effective air distribution solutions.

Vallox is a company that has developed ventilation systems in Finland for almost 50 years. High-quality ventilation technology is combined with a simple, elegant design and ease of use. Silently and unobserved, Vallox takes care of ventilation of the building, keeping indoor air fresh and clean to breathe. The cleaner the air you breathe is, the better you feel and the more you have energy. Vallox operates reliably in all seasons, in all weather conditions. Vallox has invested especially on the development of the energy efficiency of ventilation units, as ventilation needs to be on all the time. New generation ventilation units can be controlled remotely with a cloud service and they have a built-in humidity and carbon dioxide sensors that adjust ventilation power automatically as needed. Vallox operates internationally while the main markets are in the Baltic Sea Region and central European countries.

We spend up to 90% of our time indoors and breathe roughly 15,000 litres of air every day. Therefore, healthy indoor air is key to wellbeing. The purpose of ventilation is to provide clean air for you to breathe and, at the same time, remove humidity, carbon dioxide, and other impurities from the apartment. Especially in city areas, pollution travels inside buildings, which has a negative impact on the wellbeing of the users and residents. Airborne pollen also causes symptoms to people suffering from allergies. Therefore, one of the key functions of ventilation is to filter these harmful impurities from the incoming air.

Secondly, ventilation dilutes airborne pollutants, including viruses, and removes excess humidity. A high humidity level feels unpleasant on the skin and in the structures of the building provides excellent growth conditions for mould and microbes. If the humidity level of the indoor air is too high, humidity condensates on windows or in the structures of the cold exterior wall. When the relative humidity of the air exceeds 80 %, nearly all types of mycelia thrive at normal room temperature. Humidity is estimated to be the single main cause of building damage. According to WHO, about 80% of problems found in buildings are due to humidity. Ventilation removes excessive humidity from the indoor air, extracting it directly outside the building. The smart ventilation unit identifies increased humidity and boosts ventilation automatically. This ensures that excessive humidity is removed from the building. Clean indoor air is good for both the building users and the structures of the building.

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires all new buildings in EU countries to be nearly zero-energy by the end of 2020. In ventilation, heating of the supply air accounts for most of the energy consumption. All Vallox ventilation units are equipped with heat recovery: the fresh supply air that flows into the apartment is heated by using the heat recovered from the extract air. When the heat loss is minimized, you will save in heating expenses. Heat recovery also prevents drafts caused by the supply air. The excellent annual efficiency of heat recovery and energy-efficient fans enable a healthy indoor air to be achieved cost-effectively.

Construction industry around the Baltic Sea Region has not yet suffered enormous negative impact of coronavirus pandemic. Main problems have been country-specific temporary regulations to close construction sites or closure of local sites to limit the spread of COVID-19 within construction workers. However, main effect of pandemic will hit construction industry in the following few years as many new projects are cancelled or postponed due to general uncertainty in the construction market. In the European Union, ventilation is recognized as an important part of buildings. However, for example in Russia, ventilation is available only for premium category housing and buildings, which cover only small part of all houses. General understanding of importance of the ventilation and its benefits of energy-efficiency, clean filtered air and lower humidity levels are not yet widely acknowledged in Russia.

Fresh indoor air enhances the quality of life and protects the health of the building and its users. We should utilise and develop ventilation systems also to fight against the spread of any airborne transmission pandemic.

Expert article 2789

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