August 19, 2022

New Mandatory CO2 Thresholds in the Workplace | What does the impending legislation say?

Written by

Tom Ascough

In a sign of what the new post-Covid normal will look like, the Irish government is preparing to legislate for mandatory CO2 thresholds in the workplace. The Workplace Ventilation (Covid-19) Bill 2021 is at its Third Stage in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

No longer a mere recommendation, if passed, every employee will be entitled to fresh air as defined by an environment with less than 900ppm of CO2. Prohibition notices can be served if the maximum limit of 1,500ppm is exceeded. 

The push for adequate fresh air is a welcome development. It is important for general health apart from helping limit the spread of present and future Covid variants in the workplace. However, it can be costly to implement and operate.

It will be necessary for employers to monitor CO2 levels and allow employees to view this data on request. Government officials may undertake periodic workplace CO2 inspections and employees will be entitled to request such inspections.

The implications are that many premises will have to increase air flows from their existing plant or otherwise retrofit new ventilation systems. This will generally have the impact of driving energy consumption up, thereby making it more difficult and costly to keep a lid on energy consumption and meet ever demanding ESG targets.

The demand for CO2 sensors had already been unprecedented with the onset of Covid and it will likely skyrocket if the proposed legislation is passed. For those managing commercial premises, it will be informative to see the real-time CO2 levels streaming on their dashboards. On the other hand, it will be a headache watching thresholds being breached and having to implement inconvenient protocols to keep matters in check.

While it may be feasible to incorporate on demand ventilation into the design of a new building, the solution is not so easy or affordable for existing buildings. 

We had this problem in mind when developing our new WellTech Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) multi-sensor. Rather than merely reporting CO2 to a Cloud monitoring platform, WellTech can also communicate with a building’s Building Management System (BMS) so that the plant tasked with maintaining the required CO2 levels can do so efficiently. 

WellTech can also directly control a local fan or air supply damper to regulate at a micro level. This micro level of control translates into macro savings from the central plant servicing the building. Symphony WellTech therefore provides more than a diagnosis of indoor air quality, it also provides a cure for automatically supplying occupants with appropriate fresh air. With minimal or no wiring required, the WellTech retrofit costs keep the bottom line in check too.

The proposed Workplace Ventilation (Covid-19) Bill 2021 is self-described as “an emergency Covid-19 prevention measure.” With the recent downward spiral in Covid related restrictions, this Bill may not leave the Houses of the Oireachtas. Due to merits that are independent of Covid, it nevertheless sets the stage for more stringent ventilation requirements to arrive sooner than later.

Find out more about Symphony Welltech and our IAQ package that includes smart environmental sensors, a powerful insights platform, and demand-led technology. Explore →

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