Coronavirus (COVID-19) Ventilation Short-Life Working Group minutes: 21 September 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Ventilation Short-Life Working Group on 21 September 2021.


Attendees and apologies

Attendees

  • Tim Sharpe, Chair University of Strathclyde

  • Dougie Collin, Scottish Chambers of Commerce

  • Stephen Crawford, Scottish Heads of Property Services

  • Neil Granger, Scottish Property Federation

  • Chris Iddon, Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers

  • Stephen Long, Scottish Futures Trust

  • Patrick Mackie, Environmental Health and Trading Standards Covid19 Group

  • Carol McRae, Public Health Scotland

  • Tracy McTaggart, Health and Safety Executive

  • Cath Noakes, University of Leeds

  • Fiona Richardson, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

  • Graham Robertson, Health and Safety Coordinating Group

  • Euan Ryan, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

  • Karen Stevenson, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland

  • Michael Swainson, BRE Group

Scottish Government attendees

  • Morag Angus, Chief Surveyor

  • Stephen Garvin, Deputy Director Building Standards

  • David McPhee, Deputy Director Covid Business Resilience and Support (CoBRaS)

Apologies

  • Bruce Marshall, Scottish Enterprise

  • Marion McCormack, Deputy Director Covid Ready Society

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed all attendees to the second meeting of the Scottish Government’s Covid Ventilation Short Life Working Group. Apologies were noted as above.

Minutes of the previous meeting and review of actions

Paper CV2-1

  • draft minutes of the meeting of 3 September 2021 had been previously circulated, the group confirmed the minutes as accurate

The current status of the actions is as follows:

  • terms of reference - a finalised version will be circulated in due course
  • members to return completed conflict of interest forms - thanks was given to those that have provided them, those who had not yet sent them in were requested to do so as soon as possible, even if it is just to record no conflicts
  • setting up a teams site for the group - in progress
  • further comments on the proposals - completed
  • circulation of summary of the proposal discussions – completed
  • poll to establish date and time of next meeting - completed

Action

  • members who have not already done so, to return completed CoI forms to the Group Secretariat email address: covidventilation@gov.scot

Taking forward approved recommendations

Scottish Government officials detailed the plan for a First Minister’s announcement next Tuesday, and the short timescales required to ensure the plans are in place to support this.

Paper CV2-2 

  • approved recommendations for further discussion had been previously circulated, the group went on to discuss the approved recommendations in detail

Funding for adaptations to enhance ventilation

There was discussion about where best to target the funds, with a paper of targeted questions circulated during the meeting. Whilst larger buildings with higher occupancy areas might have the most impact on reducing potential larger transmission numbers, these larger spaces are more likely to have established facilities management and should already have their ventilation in-hand. There could be a hierarchy of uses for the funding, provision of advice including a helpline, support for an assessment/survey for those who don’t know what their ventilation is like or what options they have to introduce fresh air, support for CO2 monitors for settings which would like to assess whether their current ventilation actions are sufficiently effective or not. An assessing or monitoring aspect is important to include to help ensure that premises are not ventilating more than they need to (which could incur an unnecessary increase in heating costs).

It was noted that for some properties there could be a conflict between tenants wanting to take forward actions, and landlords not being in agreement. If it was regulatory practice, then the landlord would be required to ensure that ventilation actions happened. Priority should be given to the very badly ventilated spaces. In terms of high risk settings, it was raised that pharmacies should be considered.

As we do not routinely collect data on performance of buildings, if the fund included a requirement to provide the information that they collected as part of the assessing or monitoring it enabled them to undertake, this could provide a really useful evidence base. We do not have access to data on the square meterage of offices or buildings readily available. The potential for a survey to businesses to find out what actions they have taken and what support they would like was discussed.

CO2 monitors

With regards to CO2 monitors, they could be one part of the funding rollout. Feedback on the experiences from their use in Scotland’s schools noted that it has led to simple measures being taken, and huge reassurance. Thermal issues can be an ongoing challenge, but monitors can also give you temperature and humidity readings to balance that. Clarity would be required on what businesses/organisations should do if the monitors record a reading that is recognised as too high.

A separate conversation is being held with FE/HE representatives. If looking at offices as another group, then we should be considering targeting smaller ones. If that is the focus, then we should be clear about that and also ensure that guidance messaging to larger offices about what they should already be doing is provided. It was noted, however, that it would be useful to collect data on larger offices spaces as part of an evidence base.

Communications

Further advice or guidance being developed should look to ensure that it helps to give simple answers. The inclusion of peer-to-peer business support, and the provision of case studies or examples were suggested. Business organisations could be used to poll members for best practice.

Summary of actions

  • group members to send further comments on the targeted funding questions to Scottish Government officials by Thursday lunchtime
  • secretariat will circulate a summary of the proposal discussions
  • we will look to identify which members of the group may be best-placed to advise separately on the work developed under each of the three recommendations

SLWG future work programme

Due to shortness of time, this item was not discussed in much detail. The Chair proposed that the next meeting should focus on policy and regulation.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting is due to take place in mid-October.

Action

  • secretariat to send out a poll to establish a date and time

Any other business

Some insights from the PROTECT study being undertaken elsewhere in the UK were discussed.

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