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IAQ could become an issue for new buildings

Developers could soon be required to reach an agreed standard of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) if they are to gain planning permission for new buildings.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has made tackling pollution a key priority of his term in office, is being urged to include IAQ levels in his revised London Plan for buildings over a certain size following intensive lobbying from the Clean Air in London campaign.

Campaign Founder, Simon Birkett, has also called for more measures to turn buildings into “safe havens” in the face of rising outdoor pollution. He said that addressing IAQ was the “single thing that we can do quickest and cheapest”.

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has backed the planning proposal and said it would be a key point of discussion during an IAQ event it is hosting during National Clean Air Day on June 15.

BESA Chief Executive, Paul McLaughlin, commented: “The beauty of focusing on IAQ is that it can make an immediate difference. While the lengthy debates and legal challenges over how to address outdoor air pollution rumble on, our industry can make an instant impact by putting measures in place that protect the health of building occupants.”

Birkett, who has also called for a new national Clean Air Act that includes IAQ measures, pointed out that the Building Regulations already contain requirements for maintaining nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at a safe level that should be enforced.

“People spend about 90 per cent of their time indoors and the cost of filtration is about 10 per cent of the cost of actually getting air into the building,” said Birkett. “The cost of filters is tiny compared to salaries and the impact of poor air quality on people’s health and productivity.”

Momentum behind this issue is growing following the launch of a third legal challenge by Environmental lawyers ClientEarth over the government’s plans for cleaning up outdoor pollution.

Clean Air in London says more than 1,000 deaths in the capital so far this year are attributable to exposure to dirty air.

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