Ventilation warning over 'warm banks'


12 October 2022

Elta Fans is urging building owners, managers and facilities staff to ensure 'warm banks' have sufficient ventilation to avoid health and safety issues.

Facilities such as libraries, community centres, churches and shopping centres are already open, or are in plans to open, to the public this winter as so-called warm banks. The move comes as 9 in 10 adults report that their cost-of-living has increased, and 51% of those surveyed are cutting their energy spend to cope (ONS, August 2022).

However, while the concept is welcomed, ventilation specialist Elta is warning that warm banks must be adequately risk assessed, particularly in relation to air quality.

David Millward, group product manager at Elta Group, said: “We completely understand that many people will have very difficult choices this winter. It’s pleasing to see that communities and businesses are pulling together in these times to set up places where people can be comfortable and avoid adding to their financial stress.

“We do urge all those who are applying or setting up warm banks though to undertake some due diligence and evaluate whether the building is suitable from an air quality perspective. Cold season is upon us, and germs, bacteria and viruses can easily be suspended in the air and spread quickly, especially in places where there is warm, stale air that is not being moved on. With the NHS already predicted to be at breaking point, it’s important that warm banks do not needlessly add to the strain on the health service.”

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Assessing the indoor air quality of a building is a simple process that is not prohibitively expensive, says Elta Fans. Monitors from its partner company Airthings can measure for harmful contaminants in the air such as CO2 as well as PM1 and PM2.5 (particulate matter with diameters of fewer than 1 microns and 2.5 microns respectively).

Airthings’ sensors and hubs, such as the Space Pro and Space Radon models, can also measure temperature, humidity, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), light, pressure and radon. They can communicate wirelessly, saving on wiring costs, and will help any building owner looking to retrospectively comply with Part F of the Building Regulations which governs ventilation.

Once the data on air quality has been captured, Millward advocates that building owners consult with manufacturers like Elta Fans to put a ventilation strategy in place. This will ensure there is enough airflow in the building that will help move bad pathogens out and prevent them from lingering in the air.

“Warm banks may well be a staple fixture for every winter from now on, and it is a great move for society in general to come together to help each other,” he said. “Not only this, but there may also be carbon savings to be gained from heating one building instead of many, which can only go on to help the environment.

“Getting the ventilation strategy right from the offset is vital. Not only will this help stave off unwanted spread of airborne diseases, but it will also mean that occupants can feel comfortable and breathe cleaner air during their stay. This all starts by measuring air quality first, and at Elta Fans, we’re here to help organisations at every step of the way.”

Elta Fans