Clean air gains momentum in the European political arena

Last year Camfil Farr started to develop a dialogue with stakeholders involved in the policy-making process in Europe, including Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), expert groups mandated for developing new regulations for the energy efficiency of ventilation systems, and policymakers from the European Commission and government agencies.

The objective is to share Camfil Farr’s expertise on the best available technology for air filtration and the options for ensuring that indoor air quality (IAQ) and public health will not be compromised by the next set of European regulations for the energy efficiency of buildings and ventilation systems.

Another purpose is to encourage debates and build awareness of how low-energy air filtration solutions can play a key role in reducing the energy consumption of buildings while also improving IAQ and impacting both sustainability and human health positively.

EU policymakers have long focused on the quality of outdoor air, drawing up strategies and targets for reducing harmful emissions of pollutants from cars and heavy industries.

However, a recent EU-funded research project found that levels of many harmful air pollutants are higher indoors than outdoors.

And while EU rules are patchy, Europeans have been growing into an increasingly sedentary people, spending on average 90% of their time indoors.

A flurry of activities

The new dialogue has resulted in a flurry of activities on the part of Camfil Farr, such as sponsoring the General Assembly of the Architects Council of Europe (ACE).

Camfil Farr has also sponsored a roundtable discussion with euractiv.com in Brussels on the next air quality regulations and the need for giving further consideration to IAQ.

This event brought together MEPs, European Commission representatives and NGOs. A few MEPs were also invited to visit Camfil Farr facilities in their constituencies.

As a stakeholder, Camfil Farr has contributed to the preparation study of the eco-design directive on energy-consuming ventilation products by providing experts with technical information on air filtration and its benefits for people’s health and the energy efficiency of systems. Camfil has also participated in stakeholder meetings organized by Directorate General enterprise experts and policy officers.

Camfil Farr’s position on energy efficiency, IAQ and the draft eco-design regulations on ventilation has been communicated to experts, policymakers and commissioners.

We have requested that more consideration be given to the EN 13779 and EN 779 sets of standards which, in Camfil Farr’s opinion, should be incorporated as the minimum requirements for IAQ in policies related to energy efficiency.

Camfil Farr has been working closer with ventilation industry representative associations and experts to share our position and seek support for a set of regulations on energy efficiency that would not compromise IAQ and public health. We invited these representatives to either participate or submit their own comments on ongoing regulation development.

Reducing energy consumption

Improving energy efficiency in buildings has been identified as one of the most effective ways of reducing overall energy consumption in the EU. Systems regulating indoor environments, such as air conditioning and air filtration systems, can make a substantial contribution to the energy footprint of buildings and could therefore open up a significant opportunity to reduce energy consumption.

Energy efficiency and sustainable air filtration have been on Camfil Farr’s agenda for many years. Delivering high IAQ, reducing the energy consumption of air handling systems with better low-energy filters, and continuing our cradle-to-grave approach to product management, all play an important role in this process. Our ongoing European Road Show (see AirMail 1-11) is one of our vehicles – literally – to raise awareness about the importance of IAQ, demonstrate the benefits of effective air filtration and explain how sustainable IAQ and lower energy consumption are achieved with the right choice of filters.

Brussels event

These initiatives and contacts are creating greater awareness among politicians and policymakers, who are now getting the message from GS SANCO and health experts – and now the industry – that there is an unexplored opportunity to save energy while improving indoor air quality and protecting health.

We have taken our message to Brussels in many ways. In the fall of 2011, our Mobile Lab and exhibition, housed in our 13-meterlong Road Show trailer truck, paid a direct visit to the city, parking in front of the European Parliament on Place du Luxembourg, where we provided information about the harmful effects of air pollution, which directly affects air quality indoors, where people spend about 90 percent of their lives.

At the event, Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen made introductory comments, after which Camfil Farr gave a live demonstration of realtime air quality measurements. Professor Olli Seppänen, a leading specialist on indoor air quality, also commented on the importance of IAQ.

Public health concern

Air pollution and poor IAQ have become public health concerns and Camfil Farr wants to inform the general public about their impact on human health, well-being, performance and productivity. In Europe alone, more than 300,000 Europeans die prematurely from the health impact of air pollution each year and indoor air can be 50 times more polluted than outdoor air, due to the infiltration of outdoor air into our buildings and chemical emissions from building materials, furniture and products used indoors.

At the same time, knowledge about the importance of IAQ is limited. Camfil Farr’s mobile exhibition – and events like the one in Brussels – is mainly designed to inform politicians, the public and the media about the importance of breathing good quality air in the premises where we work and live.

But the main message is this: we consider clean air to be a human right. Read more about this at camfilfarr.com, on our dedicated Road Show pages, and in our latest Annual Report and Sustainability Report.

We are highlighting the issues surrounding indoor air quality, air pollution and its effect on human health. Please have a look around, subscribe to our feed or subscribe to the IAQ blog by email and comment on any posts that you find interesting! We want to hear from you.

One thought on “Clean air gains momentum in the European political arena

  1. I have been living with Sick Building Syndrome for 7 years. It was discovered that the new build property I bought in 2006 has insufficient ventilation. I have been offered mechanical ventilation system but as the air intake would be located on a busy road, adjacent to a car park exit ramp, above the car park smoke vents and in a central London location, I have refused as they can not assure the system they intend to fit will remove the outdoor pollution before it enters my property. As the property is already too air tight I am concerned the new air may pollute my home further. The system they intend to install is by Envirovent and as far as I am aware the filter is G4. Would you be able to advise of the best option for my situation. Kind Regards, Ian Churchill

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