Coronavirus (COVID-19) Adaptations Expert Advisory Group Interim Meeting minutes: 1 March 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 1 March 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Professor Tim Sharpe, University of Strathclyde


  • Christoph Ackermann, Foster Architectural Design and Engineering
  • Dr Chris Iddon, The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
  • Stephen Long, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Professor Stephen Reicher, St Andrew’s University

Scottish Government attendees

  •  Judith Ainsley, Head of Covid Policy Unit, Covid Ready Society
  • Steven Scott, Head of Technical Unit, Building Standards, Directorate for Local Government and Housing
  • Thomas Lennon, Construction Professional and Technical Author, Building Standards, Directorate for Local Government and Housing
  • Covid Ready Society Policy Officials, Directorate for Population Health


  • Dr Carole McRae, Public Health Scotland
  • Professor Cath Noakes, University of Leeds


  • Covid Ready Society Policy Official

Items and actions

Welcome and background 

The Chair welcomed members to an interim meeting of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Adaptations Expert Advisory Group to allow for an extended discussion around the potential development of a ventilation survey on existing public sector buildings. A Scottish Government (SG) official explained that the purpose of the meeting was to explore whether a ventilation survey of public sector buildings initially would be a suitable and valuable step towards improving infection resilience in Scotland’s existing building stock. The survey could act as a prelude to further trialling the use of CO2 monitoring improvement models in the public sector, which could support the business case for a wider observatory model.  

It was also highlighted that this work would link to recommendation 6 of the Covid-19 Ventilation Short Life Working Group

 “To develop a strategy on the best methods to gain insights into the actual ventilation performance of buildings in Scotland as an aid to understanding health impacts on the public and building occupants. This may include the development of monitoring and evaluation tools or a survey of ventilation levels in the existing building stock, or development of requirements for monitoring of buildings. This could also take the form of an Observatory involving a cross section of buildings across the country. ”

Initial scoping of feasibility and requirements – early development of research specifications

An SG official provided a brief explanation of the proposed policy intent of this piece of work and introduced a discussion around the feasibility and requirements for a national ventilation survey. All attendees were in agreement that carrying out a ventilation survey would be a positive action, and that this would be an intervention in itself (by raising awareness of the need for improved ventilation to support infection resilience), in addition to providing valuable data and insights which could prompt further interventions, such as CO2 monitoring.

Attendees discussed the logistics of carrying out the survey and who it would be targeted at e.g. building owners, building managers, building users such as staff and/or building visitors. The methodology of the survey was also discussed with clear merits for the use of both quantitative and qualitative research and the appropriate sequencing, with consensus that it should be kept as simple as possible.

Attendees discussed the potential public sector spaces that could be targeted by the survey, such as libraries, community centres or leisure centres for example.  The possibility of a sample survey approach was discussed, alongside consideration of sample focus groups in advance of the survey or alongside the survey. If a sample survey approach was adopted this could help shape a wider-scale survey. Attendees also discussed rolling the survey out to the private sector in the future. 

SG officials agreed to take an action away to establish the existing number of public sector buildings in Scotland to scope out the scale of the audience and support further development of a proposal.

Overall, there was agreement that we should continue to scope and develop a ventilation survey proposal that would target public sector buildings, with an aim to extend to the private sector in the future. Attendees generally agreed with the principle of keeping the survey simple to gather the views, experiences, data and insights of those who manage buildings and the views and experiences of those who use them. It was acknowledged that different methods may be needed to reach different target audiences. 

Any other business and close

Attendees were asked to consider whether they would be willing to continue with this piece of work and form a short life sub-group.  The Chair thanked members for their time and valuable contributions, and noted the next meeting is scheduled to be held on 6 March 2023.

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