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News - September/October 2018

New air quality and ventilation guidelines for schools

New air quality and ventilation guidelines for schools

The Government has announced updated guidelines for improving indoor air quality, thermal comfort and ventilation in schools.

Laura Mansel-Thomas, Partner at property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood, who was part of the advisory board for BB101 2018, said: “The new BB101 guidelines - which replace those of 2006 - mean that designers working for headteachers, school estates and facilities managers will now have to look much more closely at the ventilation strategies for new school buildings and refurbishment projects.”

The document presents a number of new recommendations and requirements to improve air quality and reduce levels of CO2. The key differences between BB101 2006 and BB101 2018 include a requirement that the average fresh air rate must be at least 5 litres per second per person.

The purge fresh air rate also needs to be 8 litres per second per person for all new build teaching spaces. For natural ventilation systems, CO2 levels should average below 1,500 parts per million (ppm) and for mechanical ventilation systems, CO2 levels should average below 1,000ppm. The guidelines state that for either system, CO2 levels cannot exceed 1,500ppm for greater than 20 minutes.

Mansel-Thomas said: “The real solutions will be site - and even room - specific, as has always been the case. Increasing worries about air quality will mean that mechanical ventilation - with high levels of filtration to remove pollutants - will continue to be the best solution for urban schools close to busy roads. However, rural locations, with high air quality and fewer external noise issues, should continue with a ‘natural ventilation first’ approach.”

She added: “The new guidelines - which also require window openings to be provided as supplementary purge ventilation - will likely mean increased costs as schools take the necessary measures to become compliant. This is particularly true for those that have traditionally been naturally ventilated through the use of openable windows.”

Gary Morgan, Director, Eco-Airvent, commented: “BB101 2018 is the largest fundamental change in ventilation design regulation and guidance since 2006.

“BB101 2018 contains 162 pages of regulations and guidance and gives a more detailed holistic approach to the internal environment in schools. Now the benchmark for schools, it’s important that it is well understood by those actively working in the education design sector. BB101 Works in tandem with BB93 acoustic design of schools-performance standards (2015), which outlines regulations relating to acoustic requirements. While not being too prescriptive, to allow designers to use innovative energy saving solutions, it does offer a better framework to steer sensible choices for building services equipment that should result in building better schools.”

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