ASBP Healthy Building Conference 2018


image of people at conference and branded title

Ben Humphries, Director at Architype, was among the invited to speak at the ASBP Conference on the 14th February 2018,  focussing on new metrics in post occupancy evaluation studies for healthy buildings.

Keynote speaker Prof Steven Holgate from the University of Southampton set the scene with a comprehensive presentation on health risks associated with exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution, highlighting the high vulnerability of children to environmental exposure, and the importance of the indoor environment given the fact that people in the UK spend an average 92% of their time indoors.

Among other themes in the one-day conference were the toxicity of building materials and challenges in indoor air quality assessment.

Ben explained how healthy primary school building design evolved through investment in post occupancy evaluation projects, including Innovate UK projects, collaborations with Oxford Brookes University, Coventry University and most recently UCL. Among these, a comparative study, (an ERDF funded KEEN project with Architype) showed that outdoor air supply rates in Passivhaus school classrooms were more likely to be sufficient compared to non-Passivhaus and conventional school buildings. However, as this is based on metrics of indoor carbon dioxide levels, Ben presented evidence suggesting that CO2 is a suitable indicator but not a sufficient proxy for indoor air quality.

graph showing indoor air quality in the.winter time in various school class rooms. (passivhaus classrooms show overwhelmingly better results


In order to assess the exposure of building users to indoor air pollution, indoor and outdoor sources of pollution need to be assessed both at design and post occupancy evaluation stages. Additional metrics, such as priority VOC, total VOC and particulate matter concentrations will soon be required to assess whether the indoor environment in school buildings is healthy.

overhead image of possibilities for healthy material specifications

Material Palette ©Ståle_Eriksen

Among other considerations, strategies for good indoor air quality include the informed selection of building materials. Architype buildings demonstrate this systematic research into healthy options for finishing materials specifications.

Ben revealed some details from an ongoing PhD research project (collaboration between Architype and UCL IEDE with Historic England as part of SEAHA CDT) which explores the contribution of materials to indoor air quality in classrooms in Passivhaus school buildings, and uses a combination of active and passive air sampling techniques for a comprehensive indoor air quality assessment with a focus on the health of users, covering a significant evidence gap.  Monitoring will commence later this year, and we will write a future blog with our findings.


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For more information on the conference, programme and presentation slides please follow this link.