ACA Advocacy: COVID-19, Indoor Air Quality & Ventilation

10 October 2021

The ACA has joined a coalition of nine peak industry bodies to call for credible, government-endorsed, public information regarding the airborne transmission of COVID-19 and the importance of indoor air quality.

On Friday 3 September, the ACA participated in a COVID and Ventilation Roundtable with a diverse range of industry peak bodies that are committed to providing safe and healthy indoor environments, including building managers, architects, contractors, consultants, and standards organisations.

Participants at the Industry Roundtable proposed a range of strategies and actions to improve air quality and ventilation within Australian buildings, commencing with urgent, simple and low-cost steps coupled with a longer-term strategy for improving national standards. Also discussed at the meeting was how these outcomes may influence national health policy and advice. The first step is a letter to Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt, calling for targeted guidance material that is endorsed by both government and industry.

On 21 September, a letter was sent to Greg Hunt, signed by the ACA; the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH); the Air Conditioning & Mechanical Contractors Association of Australia (AMCA Australia); the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE Australia & New Zealand); the Facilities Management Association of Australia (FMA); the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA); the Indoor Air Quality Association Australia (IAQAA); Master Plumbers; and Standards Australia.

“Our collective view is that more substantial guidance on this issue, endorsed by both government and industry, is vital for Australians to return to workplaces and other buildings confidently, safely, and sustainably. It would also help accelerate a much-needed dialogue about the longer-term role of buildings in public health…

Whether applied to existing or new buildings, all options available for risk mitigation require a shift in mindset across much of the community, reinforcing the need for a coordinated approach with endorsement from government, health, and industry.

… We would like to emphasise that responding to these challenges presents an opportunity to establish a long-overdue public discourse around the importance of indoor air quality for health outcomes. Changes to the design of buildings and cities have proven effective in response to previous public health outbreaks (tuberculosis, Spanish flu, SARS and MERS), and there is an increasing body of research demonstrating the long-term benefits of better indoor air quality for occupant safety, well-being, and productivity.

The building industry has an important role to play. As participants on the COVID and Ventilation Industry Roundtable, we are committed to working together and with government to provide leadership and technical expertise to assist with the immediate and longer-term public health response to COVID-19.”