Coronavirus (COVID-19) Ventilation Short-Life Working Group minutes: 3 September 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Ventilation Short-Life Working Group on 3 September 2021.


Attendees and apologies

Attendees

  • Tim Sharpe, Chair University of Strathclyde
  • Murray Horn,Scottish Property Federation (in place of Neil Granger)
  • Brian Lawrie,Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland
  • Chris Iddon, Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
  • Hugh Lightbody, Business Gateway
  • Stephen Long, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Bruce Marshall, Scottish Enterprise
  • Carol McRae, Public Health Scotland
  • Tracy McTaggart Health and Safety Executive
  • Cath Noakes, University of Leeds
  • Euan Ryan, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor
  • Karen Stephenson, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland
  • Michael Swainson, BRE Group

Scottish Government attendees

  • Morag Angus, Chief Surveyor

  • Stephen Garvin, Deputy Director Building Standards

  • Marion McCormack, Deputy Director Covid Ready Society

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

Apologies

  • Dougie Collin, Scottish Chambers of Commerce
  • Stephen Crawford, Scottish Heads of Property Services

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed all attendees to the first meeting of the Scottish Government’s Covid Ventilation Short Life Working Group.

Scope and purpose of the group

Paper CV1-1

  • terms of reference had been previously circulated, containing the main questions to be examinedthe group were asked if they were content with it
  • discussion around the boundaries of the remit clarified that the group should provide the advice which will underpin the policy options

Action

  • tems of reference confirmed, except for some final tweaks from the secretariat

Paper CV1-2

  • conflict of interest forms had been previously circulated, members were requested to declare any conflicts that could affect the discussions today, otherwise to ensure that they returned their completed forms to the group secretariat

Action

  • members to returned completed conflict of interest forms to the group secretariat email address: covidventilation@gov.scot

Ventilation proposals

Scottish Government officials detailed the background leading to the establishment of this group, the proposals and the requirement for responses on the proposals for the First Minister by Wednesday 8 September.

Paper CV1-3

  • ventilation proposals for consideration had been previously circulated, the group went on to discuss these proposals in detail

Proposal one – specific comms/standards on what “good ventilation looks like”

It was agreed that more detailed communications setting out the different scenarios (such as in the example provided) and different building/system types would be useful, but without setting out any specific number levels or thresholds that we do not have full scientific evidence to justify with regards to potential Covid transmission. These should include examples of how to avoid poor ventilation, rather than metrics.

Proposal two – funding for adaptations to enhance ventilation

The discussions centred on making funding available to support identification of poorly ventilated areas, and supporting small remedial maintenance works to improve these. The Group could put together a cost-benefit analysis of options. The importance of keeping in mind spaces where people have to be (such as healthcare, or for their work) as compared to choosing to be (hospitality, etc.) was noted.

Proposal three – extended CO2 monitor rollout, beyond schools, and make compulsory in such settings

It was noted that a blanket rollout of CO2 monitors is not straight forward, and suggested that an education rollout would also be required. The Belgian system and specific levels set was not seen as being appropriate to replicate in Scotland as an immediate response to Covid, as evidence of the Belgian system’s effectiveness as a Covid mitigation is not clear. Positive feedback on the experiences from the use of these monitors in Scotland’s schools so far was noted. The Group found it reassuring that schools have been able to use them effectively in conjunction with thermometers to manage both ventilation and thermal comfort, have found them really useful and in general they have not identified too many areas as badly ventilated. It was not felt that they would be appropriate for nightclubs, but could be considered for offices or other spaces with more continuous occupancy.

Proposal four – air purifiers

The consensus of the group was that as there is other work going on in this area which the Group is linked into, they did not see the need to do something else similar at this point. The Group also considered that the use of air purifiers would not be beneficial and only act as a first aid measure where Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) cannot be immediately achieved.

Proposal five – or other work to be produced alongside the above

With regards to a survey of buildings and review of building standards, it was noted that these are longer-term pieces of work, but that early stage advice from the group would be important. The Group should come back to discuss these aspects in more detail at a future meeting.

Proposal six – Innovation Fund

The Innovation piece would take longer to pull together. To be discussed at a future meeting.

The consideration of homes as an area to focus on was discussed. However, due to the potential for much larger numbers to be infected in public spaces, it was agreed to initially focus on these more public settings, but keep Homes in mind for later in the work programme.

Summary of actions

  • secretariat to set up a teams site for the group
  • group members to send further comments on the proposals to the SLWG email address (covidventilation@gov.scot) by Wednesday at the latest, sooner if possible
  • secretariat will circulate a summary of the proposal discussions

Date of next meeting

The next meeting is due to take place the week of 20 September.

Action

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

Any other business

There was no other business.

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