Ventilation on our campuses

Published: 6 September 2021

An update for colleagues about work to improve ventilation in our buildings

As we learn more about COVID-19, and the way it transmits, we are able to put in place more health and safety measures to protect ourselves against the spread of the virus.

One of the most important measures has emerged more recently and that affects the chance of transmission is indoor ventilation. The Scottish Government states:

“Aerosol transmission is transmission via fine mists (aerosols) and droplets containing the virus that are suspended in air. There is increasing evidence of the potential risk of aerosol transmission, particularly in poorly ventilated and/or crowded environments.

“As a result, ventilation is an important factor in reducing the risk of aerosol transmission indoors, where individuals may be in close contact, potentially for longer periods of time.”

Ventilation assessment

Over recent months, Estates have been working with colleagues across the organisation to better understand ventilation in our buildings and put in place measures to improve it where necessary.

This work has involved an audit of our campus and facilities, with over 12,000 spaces assessed for ventilation over the past four months. We have provided more information about the detail of this assessment process in our Ventilation FAQs.

This has been undertaken with specialist consultants, WSP, to ensure this is done in line with the latest industry and government standards, covering all rooms that colleagues will be working in as we return to working on campus in greater numbers over coming weeks and months.

Ventilation improvement

Ventilation standards and improvements applied to all our buildings are in compliance with the requirements of the Health & Safety at Work Act and Workplace regulations.

During the pandemic we have worked to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on ventilation and air conditioning during COVID-19.

Together with colleagues from across the organisation, we are ensuring that ventilation is optimised, mostly through straightforward actions that can be done locally, but also through more technical mitigations if needed.

The majority of our buildings are already adequately ventilated by either mechanical or natural means, so they do not require additional measures, provided physical distancing and hygiene regulations are adhered to.

However, we should still aim to maximise the amount of fresh air in buildings, and it’s important that all colleagues are aware of some basic measures everyone can take to improve ventilation, including opening windows and doors on a regular basis to allow air to circulate through the building.

Where ventilation can be improved, much of the work has been undertaken and will be complete for your return. This includes unsealing windows and optimising mechanical ventilation settings to increase airflow and deliver more fresh air. If you there are windows in rooms that you occupy that cannot be opened, please contact the Estates Helpdesk to unseal them.

We are also undertaking ongoing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) monitoring, through a combination of mobile and fixed testing units, to further support our auditing. Although there is no link between CO2 levels and COVID-19, the CO2 level in a room indicates air quality, meaning we can assess where further measures may need to be taken. There is more information on CO2 testing in the Ventilation FAQs.

Where ventilation falls below the statutory requirement, and we cannot improve it sufficiently to accommodate the activities usually undertaken within a particular room, an occupancy limit will have been set. There are stickers in the rooms where this applies to advise users of the occupancy limit.

Other health and safety measures on-campus

It is important to note that ventilation is one of a number of safety measures that have been implemented on our campuses and that we should all be using in our working and day-to-day lives.

It is important that we continue to maintain good hygiene through regular hand washing to prevent transmission and meet outside where possible. Face coverings and physical distancing are also required in some situations, and you can read more about these on our webpages.

Colleagues and students should also be aware of the NHS Scotland Test & Protect guidance, and test twice-weekly using lateral flow devices.

  • For more information on ventilation in the workplace, please see the Scottish Government COVID-19 ventilation guidance.
  • You can raise queries about your workspace and safety arrangements, via your line manager or Head of Professional Services.
  • For assistance or to report faults in any specific rooms or spaces, please contact the Estates Helpdesk or call 0141 330 6000.

First published: 6 September 2021