Health in buildings, UAE building

Report: UAE buildings could be making you sick says WSP

The environmental quality in indoor spaces in the UAE could be making occupants sick, according to a recent report by WSP.

In a recent study, Farah Yassine, senior consultant at WSP, said that indoor spaces, including schools, offices and recreational spaces, have shown higher than average Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs), Construction Week reports.

High levels of TVOCs, which are chemical compounds based on carbon chains with a vapour pressure greater than 0.01 kPa at 293.15 K (i.e. 20°C), can cause or contribute to a number of health problems such as headaches, nausea and fatigue.

In fact, a study conducted in 2014 assessed the indoor environmental quality in elementary school classrooms and showed that indoor air quality levels were over double the acceptable limits of pollutants.

Poor acoustic conditions were also higher than average in many buildings in the UAE, with the average sound level measured in classrooms around 59 dB – 24 dB higher than the recommended sound level of 35 dB.

In this regard, poor acoustic conditions can have a direct, adverse impact on concentration and productivity levels, according to the study.

Yassine also highlights accessibility as a factor to improving the indoor environment quality of buildings in the country, as it has a direct impact on people’s comfort levels.

WSP conducted a survey in early 2016 assessing the accessibility of 28 public service buildings in Dubai against International Accessibility Standards.

The findings showed that only 5% of the accessibility standards criteria are currently being met by the building’s access ramps, noted the report.

In a response to counter the adverse effects of our indoor environment, the International Well Building Institute introduced the Well Building Standard in 2014 in order to facilitate a structured and formal assessment of office and commercial buildings against factors that impact health and wellbeing of its occupants.

It is the first building rating tool that focuses entirely on the health and wellness of building occupants.

This the rating tool contains 100 features under the following seven categories: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind.

“There is currently only one building registered under the WELL rating system in Dubai,” Yassine said in the study.

“WSP has a team of qualified specialists with experience in the green building industry who can advise on the health and wellness of your office or projects.”