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Questioning Convention – Disease Transmission in Australian Buildings

December 22, 2022

Patrick Chambers speaks with AIRAH in Ecolibrium about how the COVID‑19 pandemic highlighted gaps in the conventional approach to ventilation design

There’s a growing chorus that now, more than ever, institutionalised professions must question conventional practices in response to evolving public need. Despite best intentions, conventional design has proven inadequate in mitigating against the risk of airborne disease transmission, such as COVID-19.

In the days and weeks following the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a worldwide pandemic in March 2020, the reaction from the Australian HVAC industry, while swift, was cemented in well‑established conventions. Existing ventilation systems were modified to reduce risk of transmission, and early recommendations centred on increasing outside air ventilation rates and filtration efficiency within existing air handling systems.

What was missing, however, was analysis of how effective these strategies might be during a one‑in‑100‑year pandemic. To better understand how the risk of disease transmission within buildings could be reduced through improved HVAC design, Stantec embarked on a collaborative research project with leading academic institutions and advisory groups. The findings of this project flip the conventional management of airborne disease transmission in buildings on its head.

Read the full article in The Ecolibrium

  • Patrick Chambers

    A chartered mechanical engineer, Patrick focuses his work on high-performance buildings and large-scale infrastructure projects.

    Contact Patrick
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