By: Raymond McGurk of BRS Technology @BrsTechnology
On the surface of it, the recently announced Green Homes Grant seems like great news – eligible homeowners will be able to use £5,000 – £10,000 vouchers to help pay for environmentally friendly improvements such as installing loft, floor and wall insulation, double-glazing or similar work – but underneath it, there’s huge missed opportunities.
We talk about improving the environment and addressing issues around heat waste, large bills, making sure people have access to green spaces, but we miss one key area in all of this – the air that people breathe indoors.
Why indoor air quality matters
Study after study talks about improving air quality outdoors and reducing traffic emissions – but we spend twice as much time indoors as we do outdoors and, in fact, during lockdown periods, it’s nearly 24/7.
But there was nothing mentioned in the material around the Grant to improve indoor air quality.
Air quality is a huge contributing factor to a person’s indoor environment. Poor indoor air quality impacts personal well-being, increases the risk of health impacts such as asthma attacks and the ability to concentrate on working from home.
In addition to the health impact this has a detrimental impact on homes, creating condensation, mould and dampness issues.
So you have those issues to consider as well as any gases or chemical compounds coming in from outdoors and traffic. If we are concerned about outdoor air quality, we should be treating indoor air quality with the same level of seriousness.
Improved indoor air quality means there is less chance of a house having damp or mould – something that is still a big issue across the UK in both private and social housing, but especially in social housing.
So, if the Grant can address indoor air quality issues, you are improving lives for the long term and likely to save landlords money in the long run. It’s a win for tenant and owner alike.
But there’s been nothing – and the bigger concern is that the problem could get worse before it gets better.
Lockdown and the impact on indoor air quality
Our indoor air quality sensors and monitoring showed air quality issues rising during the first lockdown and if there is a second lockdown – either across the UK, Scotland or a more regional/city level – in winter, not only will levels rise again, but they may rise more because it will be a cold winter and people don’t want to open windows as much.
If we’re serious about improving health – as we seem to be, following the news on food advertising this week – we can’t get more fundamental about that than the air people breathe across the country.
That’s the second missed opportunity here. Due to the nature of the UK at the moment, this only applies to England. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are missing out.
Now, the air we breathe doesn’t stop at the internal borders of the UK so why should legislation that can help?
Across the world, people are starting to see this as the huge issue that it is – for homes and individuals – and, as we stare Brexit in the face as well as COVID-19 – there is a huge opportunity here for the country to be a global leader on this issue – but only if the Chancellor and PM makes indoor air quality a larger part of the Grant and it is available across the UK.
About the Author
Raymond McGurk is a director of BRS Technology. BRS, based in Glasgow but operating across the UK, use tools, software, machine learning and AI to improve indoor air quality in social housing, private homes and offices across the UK.
The sensors – which detect and predict issues associated with air quality, humidity and dampness amongst other items – work across the Internet of Things (IoT) sending information to the BRS data management system.
You can find him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/raymond-mcgurk-24020615 and BRS are at http://brstechnology.co.uk and @BrsTechnology on Twitter.