Ventilation assessments

Ventilation surveys

We have now assessed around 12,000 spaces across Campus.  The assessment identifies if a space is adequate for use or not in its current form. If not, some restriction in occupancy to use the space or further mitigations  using opening windows or doors to create natural ventilation to the end users will be required.

Our survey was a combination of a desktop  exercise and a physical inspection of the areas/spaces by our Estates teams. We checked:

  • the type of ventilation in place, for example was in mechanical or natural ventilation  in each space
  • ensured that air handling units were operating correctly
  • the ventilation system was set to fresh air to maximise their effect

CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) guidance makes reference to adequate air change in rooms and spaces and again this has formed part of our approach in assessing the areas.

Your part in keeping a reasonable level of ventilation

Firstly, be reassured that we have assessed spaces that are adequate through our own experienced teams and external specialist teams and that we will continue to monitor these spaces. Your part is to make sure that doors and windows are opened where possible to maximise ventilation. Areas that have been considered inadequate have had restrictions in occupancy applied which allows them to be used.


Should I be concerned if there is no mechanical  ventilation in place?

For buildings, particularly the older ones on Campus, that don’t have mechanical ventilation systems they benefit from having a valid part of building ventilation called infiltration. This refers to the recognition that rooms are not perfectly sealed and there will always be air flows through these spaces which helps with ventilation and air changes.

How are we measuring if rooms have a good to reasonable level of ventilation?

By using Carbon Dioxide (CO2) sensor sampling we can get an indication on the current air quality within a room and an indication of the efficiency of the room’s ventilation in use.  

Is there a link between Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and transmission of COVID?

There is no link.  A high level of CO2  gives an indicator that the room  may need to be revisited either to restrict the occupancy or to check that all the controls such as opening doors are in place for the space. Remember this is about taking action when the rooms are being used to open doors and windows to maximise air flows and changes.

What about the ventilation levels in corridors and changes in levels throughout buildings?

Occupants moving throughout the building tend to be short duration transient movements and therefore the level of ventilation has less significance in relation to the risk.

Remember that masks will still be a requirement when moving through buildings.

Do we have spaces where the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels are automatically checked?

Yes we do. Some of our buildings have a building management system where we can check the effectiveness of the ventilation systems through CO2 sensors. A high CO2 level detected means an automatic adjustment of fresh air into the space.

How will we check  CO2 levels?

We know that we have spaces considered adequate and we need to check that this continues to be the case through spot CO2 sampling of these areas. The sampling will continue to give reassurance that ventilation is adequate. We also know that we need to check CO2 in inadequate spaces to confirm that the restrictions and means to create natural ventilation are also working. The CO2 sampling approach is there for ongoing reassurance that what we have in place continues to work. The repeat message is to open windows and doors in all spaces.

How will CO2 be checked?

Estates will use mobile monitoring equipment and be responsible for downloading the data to see what the trends area and take action where needed. Estates teams will also be making sure that the ventilation systems that are in place are working as required.

How will I know if the CO2 levels in a room is high, and what action do I need to take if it is above safe levels? 

All spaces have been assessed with additional ventilation measures and room occupancy levels implemented where required. We will continue to monitor CO2 levels and conduct sampling in perceived higher risk areas to ensure ventilation systems continue to meet Scottish Government Guidelines.

In order to accurately sample CO2 levels, we are required to take a series of readings (up to three times).  If the CO2 level is found to be consistently high, Estates will take the appropriate action, introducing occupancy restrictions or increasing ventilation. For offices, this will be discussed with the Office Manager and in teaching spaces, the Central Timetabling Team (CTT) will be notified and building users informed.

If a CO2 monitor is in place in a room does it indicate a safe level of CO2?

Not every room will need or require a CO2 monitor as many have automatic monitoring as covered in Q9. As part of the sampling model you may see some mobile monitors . As a guide if the CO2 is above 1500ppm this indicates poor ventilation and the action to take is to check:

  • windows are opened
  • doors are opened (unless they are fire doors that cannot be left open)
  • occupancy levels are not exceeded

Should you have any concerns report issue initially to the Head of Professional Services. who will liaise with Estates to review.

Can you explain why every room doesn’t have a CO2 monitor?

Our approach to this is risk based, applying the principles of “As Far As Reasonably Practicable”  through Health & Safety at Work Act and Statutory Regulations.  Which means we target the areas of concern and ensure that all other spaces are adequate and appropriate for use.

Opening windows in the winter is not always possible should they be closed at this time?

In line with guidance from CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) reasonable comfort should be the target for all users of rooms but even smaller openings of windows can deliver an adequate flow rate so the window opening in winter should still apply using this approach.

I have a fan in my office, can I use it?

If the area is well ventilated and has a good source of outdoor air, fans can be used to further displace air and keep the room well ventilated.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through  ventilation systems?

There is no evidence to date that the virus is transmitted through a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system to result in disease transmission. Rather, a good ventilation system will help to move air that may otherwise contain virus particles.

What should I do if I cannot open my windows to naturally ventilate my area?

Areas can be ventilated through natural ventilation facilitated through windows  and doors or by means of mechanical ventilation in place. If your area has openable windows that are seized shut, please contact your Head of Professional Services who will liaise with Estates as these repairs may already have been reported.

Do occupancy levels in rooms still apply?

Follow the occupancy level signage in place and guidance on distancing in each of the rooms and space. If occupancy levels are high in a space the level of CO2 exhaled will increase and the ventilation can become poorer so remember to follow the guidance on occupancy.

Who do I contact if I have concerns regarding ventilation in my space?

Please notify your Head of Professional Services about any general concerns in the first instance. For any specific concerns (faults or specific issues regarding ventilation) contact the Estates helpdesk on 0141 330 6000.

How do I know if there is a limit on occupancy in spaces I am using?

Any limits on occupancy within University buildings will have been agreed between Estates, Heads of Professional Services and should be communicated to local building administrators.