How has COVID-19 changed the construction industry?

Currently there are about one million different types of virus in the world. From that, 219 can infect humans and cause disease. This obviously includes coronaviruses. Something everyone will be aware of post 2020.

COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019, by December 2020, it had crossed the globe and infected roughly 20 million people. Sadly, leading to a large loss in life.

This virus has changed society, working from home, video calls and lockdowns are now commonplace. The virus has also affected construction and the design of buildings. Engineers are constantly trying to future proof construction projects.

As part of my conceptual design we have challenged ourselves to design the building to operate during a pandemic. I wanted to discuss some of the solutions we have considered in this blog.

After my research it became clear that buildings will need multilayer infection control mitigation systems implemented.

Even though social distancing, masks and hand washing are considered some of the best measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our buildings should also support infection control.

Humidification to the HVAC system

Studies have shown that people have stronger immune systems when they are in higher relative humidity environments. This also has been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Therefore, buildings can be designed to have higher humidity by altering the HVAC system.

This is one of the most effective infection control methods that can be made to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Higher efficiency filters

Again, by making small alterations to the HVAC system, infection control can be achieved. In this cause using much more sensitive filters that can remove virus from the air can prevent it circulating around a building.

This can also be retrofitted.

Upper room ultraviolet lighting

Ultraviolet light uses short-wave energy to kill viruses, bacteria and fungi so they cant cause disease.

By installing UVC light fixtures, below the ceiling, pointing towards the ceiling. They will kill coronaviruses found within the supply air stream.

They are most effective when they installed in high-occupancy and transient spaces.

Increased outdoor airflow

Again, by changing the HVAC system to use air from will help to flush pathogens out of a building.

No-touch operations

Installing no-touch faucets and automatic doors and using voice-activated control systems for elevator are another way to reduce the spread of viruses in buildings.

I have only listed a few different options considered as part of our multidisciplinary project. However, infection control will become a growing part in building design following the pandemic. Civil engineers need to adapt to satisfy the needs from society.

Written by:

Hi, I'm a Masters Civil Engineering student and the marketing officer at the Centre for Entrepreneurship. I hope you enjoy reading my blog about studying at the University of Dundee.

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