Coronavirus (COVID-19) Adaptations Expert Advisory Group minutes: 29 June 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Adaptations Expert Advisory Group on 29 June 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Professor Tim Sharpe, University of Strathclyde


  • Dr Chris Iddon, The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
  • Victoria Sanderson, Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • Patricia Anderson, HSE
  • Stephen Long, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Patrick Mackie, Local Authority Environmental Health
  • Dr Alice Street, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Diane Dixon, University of Aberdeen
  • Professor Gill Hubbard, University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Christoph Ackermann, BDP

Scottish Government attendees

  • Population Health Resilience and Protection Officials, Directorate for Population Health
  • Morag Angus, Head of Property and Construction, Scottish Government
  • Dr Stephen Garvin, Head of Building Standards, Scottish Government
  • Daniel Kleinberg, Deputy Director, Population Health Resilience and Protection Division, Scottish Government


  • Fiona Richardson, COSLA
  • Professor Vittal Katikireddi, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Stephen Reicher, St Andrew’s University
  • Dr Carole McRae, Public Health Scotland
  • Professor Linda Bauld, Scottish Government
  • Neil Granger, Scottish Property Federation
  • Professor Cath Noakes, University of Leeds


  • Population Health Resilience and Protection Official

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed members to the final meeting of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Adaptations Expert Advisory Group. The Chair thanked members for their attendance and contribution over the group’s lifespan and noted that the conclusion of the group and the next steps will be discussed in more detail during the relevant agenda items. 
The Chair thanked members of the group for circulating papers on subjects of interest to the group’s remit. Papers on Sweden’s obligatory ventilation control policy and USA’s US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) new ventilation guidance are to be considered by officials and will be shared with the group’s members. 

Agree minute of previous meeting

Members were invited to comment on or propose corrections to the minutes of meeting seven. No comments were raised therefore the minute was agreed and will be published on the group webpage.
Members were invited to submit any potential Conflicts of Interest. None were submitted. 

The Future of the COVID-19 Adaptations Expert Advisory Group

A Scottish Government (SG) official gave an overview of the conclusion of the group. The conclusion of the group reflects the current stage of the pandemic, where we are now living with COVID-19 as a respiratory infection. Going forward, Adaptations work will be embedded into ongoing wider pandemic preparedness work within the Population Health Resilience and Protection Division. Advice from the group will be considered as part of this work and if needed in the future, a similar group could be stood up.

Since the first meeting in September 2022, the group has supported officials to embed, develop and scope interventions which build infection resilience to COVID-19 and wider respiratory infections now and in the future. The group have met key objectives to encourage and embed the continued adoption of adaptations to behaviours and the built environment in Scotland, contributing to addressing all of the COVID-19 Ventilation Short Life Working Group’s Final Recommendations and supported innovation to develop interventions further. The group’s advice will continue to be considered to manage existing risks more effectively and support pandemic preparedness (prevention and response) of future threats.

The group have continued to highlight a lack of understanding of how buildings operate and perform in relation to ventilation, particularly within existing non-domestic buildings. In response to the advice of the group, Scottish Government is committed to progressing and developing Pathfinder 1 - CO2 Monitoring and Improvement pilot; and scoping feasibility of Pathfinder 2 - a national Ventilation Performance survey of existing buildings for public sector organisations. These projects aim to begin to close the data gap and consider the development of policy triggers and mechanisms to support practical and supportive models for assessment and improvement.

SG officials would appreciate those who previously participated in interim meetings on these Pathfinder Projects to contribute to these projects on an ad-hoc basis.

SG officials would also appreciate the members’ engagement and contribution to the plans on the Centre for Pandemic Preparedness (CPP) through attending sessions being run by Public Health Scotland (PHS). Invitations have been shared.

The group agreed that the time is right to conclude the work of this particular group. 

The COVID-19 Public Inquiries were discussed and how/when possible findings may be available. It was generally agreed that when it comes to existing buildings and ventilation - in the context of infection resilience - we have enough information to act now. Findings from the Inquiries are not required to start trying to plug the biggest knowledge gap; which is on  how ventilation in buildings in Scotland works. The Pathfinder projects seek to start this work. 
It was confirmed by the Secretariat that documents relating to this group’s work have been shared with the Inquiries.  

Scottish Government Pathfinder Projects 

A SG official gave an overview of the CO2 Monitoring and Improvement Trial (Pathfinder 1).

SG officials are working with Scottish Government Estates and House teams to develop ventilation monitoring, assessment, and improvement models(s) through the use of CO2 monitors. Proposals are in development and subject to change. The key aim is to build resilience to existing and future respiratory infections. The Pathfinder Project also aims to build understanding and evidence on the ventilation performance of existing buildings and support development of practical monitoring and improvement models. The project will inform the development of wider pandemic preparedness policy, helping to make spaces safer for all, now and in the future.

The project will be rolled out in 5 SG buildings across Scotland. The buildings are relatively different in design, age and current ventilation measures and therefore should provide a good variety for sampling.

The group discussed the detail of the everyday monitoring and functioning of such a project. Also discussed was the importance of recording certain factors to ensure successful data collection, such as occupancy of rooms, whether windows are opened or closed at the time of data capture, and functionality of ventilation systems.

A SG official gave a brief overview of the proposed national Ventilation Performance survey of existing buildings for public sector organisations (Pathfinder 2). Pathfinder 2 is still at the early stages of development. The project seeks to develop a survey for Building Managers across the public sector in Scotland, with the aim of assessing people’s knowledge of, and existing data collection on the performance of the ventilation of public sector buildings.
The Chair recognised the value of such a survey, and suggests if it were done in time for Autumn it could help inform insights and help prepare for the Winter wave of respiratory infections.  

Any other business and close

The Chair thanked members and the Secretariat for their time and valuable contributions over the course of the group’s lifespan. Daniel Kleinberg (Scottish Government) joined the meeting and thanked members for their time and contributions and reiterated the request for members to engage with the PHS sessions on the development of a Centre for Pandemic Preparedness.  The Chair and Daniel Kleinberg emphasised the importance of the work on ventilation and buildings in the context of infection resilience and pandemic preparedness.

Back to top