This week we have celebrated Clean Air Day. Held on the 21st June, Clean Air Day aims to get people talking about air pollution, it's impacts and the potential solutions.
Sources and Impacts of Air Pollution:
So let's start by talking about what air pollution is and where it comes from. The Oxford Reference defines air pollution as "The presence in the air of any pollutant that reduces air quality enough to threaten the health and welfare of people, plants, and animals". These pollutants can take the form of the classic Green House Gases or particulates such as black carbon. There are many sources of air pollution including vehicles (exhaust especially from diesel cars and cars not being properly maintained), large scale energy production, open fires and stoves are all just a few examples. In addition to these external sources, indoor air quality can be influenced by levels of outdoor pollution, off-gassing from building materials, water leaks and indoor combustion sources.
Air pollution has a series of impacts ranging from blackening buildings within a city to influencing human health. As many 40'000 deaths each year are caused by external air pollution. So with this in mind, isn't it time we cleaned up our act?
Air pollution and the Construction Industry:
Waste from the construction industry doesn't just come in the form of physical rubbish, air particulates from the demolition of an existing building, construction of a new build, delivers and the everyday functioning of the building all add to the problem. Through thoughtful design, construction practices and operational management the construction industry has a great opportunity to improve air quality.
For example, the BREEAM assessment, places a focus on improving the indoor and outdoor air quality of a site. The BREEAM Heath and Well-being category contains a credit to ensure a high standard of indoor air quality is achieved. The credit focuses on developing an indoor air quality plan, reducing emissions from construction products and measuring post-construction air quality.
So improving air quality through thoughtful design and construction approaches can not only benefit the environment but also improve human health for building occupants! Win Win!