In a recent Economist Magazine (May 29th, 2021), the editor decided to include an article on a topic that Colt has been talking about for a while now, but which is finally receiving the attention it deserves because of the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. That topic is the important role that fresh, indoor air in schools and workplaces has in contributing to improving the health and wellbeing of a building’s occupants.
It sounds obvious when you think about it, and yet not many people realise that most of us spend up to 90% of our lives indoors, working, learning and living. This means that the air we breathe indoors is the predominant air we are circulating through our respiratory systems. If the air in these spaces is not clean, we are doing serious harm to our bodies – harm that has been scientifically proven to have a negative impact on our bodies and minds. At worst, exposure to bad indoor air quality for extended periods of time can have fatal and tragic consequences such as premature death or the development of terminal lung diseases. Other side effects can be less ‘physically’ debilitating, but still have negative long-term effects on an individual’s mind and quality and enjoyment of life.
For example, better indoor air quality notably boosts academic performance – students test scores go up and they are more attentive and engaged with their learning, meaning they’ve got a better chance of fulfilling their full potential. Office workers in buildings that are well ventilated with fresh, natural air from outside (not the recirculated air commonly associated with traditional air condition systems) were found to have cognitive scores of up to 61% higher than their counterparts in conventional office set-ups. Traditional air conditioning set-ups are also often blamed for spreading diseases throughout buildings, causing asthma, increasing sensitivities to allergies, bringing on headaches and resulting in a higher level of absence and ‘sick days’ from staff. Clearly, providing a constant fresh supply of air to staff provides benefits not only to them, but also to the business’ bottom line, with increased productivity and a more engaged, present workforce cutting down on overheads that may be caused by absences or human error from loss of concentration.
Along with engineers, members of local authorities and the public having campaigned for years to have stricter air quality laws introduced, official, government recognition of the issues at hand has been slow. However, 2020’s Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light just how important fresh indoor air is, with Patrick Vallance, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser mentioning that ensuring good ventilation in schools and workplaces as one of the most important actions any building owner or occupier could take to reducing the spread of the virus.
Colt has been developing ventilation solutions since the 1930’s and our understanding of the science and engineering that provides the healthiest, most efficient ventilation solutions is deep and unparalleled. Our CoolStream systems, for example, have been used by numerous schools, hospitals, factories and more as a healthy and efficient alternative to traditional air conditioning systems. The CoolStream system works though evaporative cooling, constantly pulling in fresh, warm air from the outside which is then passed over water, which evaporates into the air. The heat in the air is withdrawn as the energy necessary for the evaporation process is expelled, thereby creating cool fresh air that is fed into the building. The water and heat that is removed from the warm outdoor air during the cooling process is then circulated back out of the building via the system. This constant movement of fresh air in, used air out creates a healthy indoor environment and climate that will benefit occupants and, in some cases, also stock and equipment.
CoolStream is just one example of the innovative ventilation approaches that Colt produces to help keep buildings comfortable and safe. If you are ready to create a healthier environment for the occupants in your building, talk to a Colt climate specialist today to arrange a free consultation with one of our team of specialist engineers.
If your building is too hot or too cold, if your process gives off fume or moisture, if your product requires specific conditions during its manufacture or storage, or if noise is a concern, then we may be able to help you.
We can survey your building using a range of techniques and equipment to identify your problem. Once established, we can then recommend a solution based on proven design work.
Paul Langford is an Engineering Director with experience in product development, manufacturing and testing for HVAC, solar shading, louvre systems and smoke control applications.