Improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in Kuwaiti Housing Developments at Design, Construction, and Occupancy Stages
, PhD thesis, University of Salford.
There are many sources of outdoor pollution in Kuwait which then makes natural ventilation a poor mechanism for good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Therefore, a mechanical or hybrid ventilation system is necessary. First of all, Kuwait is situated in the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia with a desert weather climate. The prevailing wind is north and northeast and that causes sand storms. Also most of the towns and cities are situated and constructed within the vicinity of many industrial sites, petroleum downstream/upstream facilities (including Kuwait's three refineries, petrochemical complexes, crude oil production points etcetera) and many small industries. Most housing construction projects, as well as schools, commercial and governmental buildings are built in the downwind of the polluted air emitted from such plants, therefore, there is the potential for consequential health effects related to the ambient air. As a result, there is a prevalence of asthma and rhinitis among the schoolchildren in Kuwait. The estimated prevalence of asthma among school children was 22.4% and that of rhinitis was 23% (Abal et al., 2010).
It was evident from a preliminary study that indoor air quality (IAQ) in Kuwait housing is under-researched and there is a clear lack of awareness amongst building stakeholders (Architects and Designers, M&E Engineers, User, etc.) of the harmful effects of chemicals that exist inside buildings. The risk of poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is increased by a lack of proficient knowledge of how numerous factors can contribute to poor IAQ, both during design, construction and after occupancy. As a result, the study set out to: research previous related research studies in the field of IAQ, identify the current status quo of IAQ in Kuwait, conduct a survey (questionnaires and interviews) with Kuwait construction professionals regarding IAQ issues and to find the barriers to implementing IAQ best practice in all stages of the project, and then finally, to develop a framework for achieving good IAQ in Kuwait housing projects.
The findings revealed no documents written for Kuwait, that encompasses codes, standards, regulations and guidance for the implementation of good IAQ in Kuwait housing developments, or a framework for government enforcement of such. It was also revealed that there was a significant lack of awareness of indoor air pollutants and good IAQ both amongst occupants and construction professionals. The analysis also revealed that the status quo in the housing development process did not enable integration amongst the project team and stakeholders at the design stage, hence team member’s valuable input on achieving good IAQ at design stage is lost. Furthermore, the process did not emphasize the following at every stage of the project to ensure good IAQ: commissioning of the ventilation design and installation, which includes value engineering, proper sequencing and scheduling of activities to avoid dust or debris from contaminating the ventilation system, proper documentation and reporting to ensure the owner’s project objectives are documented, achieved, checked, and carried over to the next stage.
The findings show that the barriers to achieving good IAQ in Kuwait housing developments are; cost and budget, government enthusiasm, lack of awareness, lack of enforceable codes and standards, lack of design integration, distrust of the competence level of local IAQ companies, habit and age, low level of IAQ education, and lack of training. While, the drivers of good IAQ in Kuwait housing are; the client/end-user, the government, architects, designers, IAQ consultants, construction professional societies, contractors and manufacturers.
The developed and validated framework achieves the aim and objectives of the study by proposing strategies and actions for improving indoor air quality (IAQ) in Kuwaiti housing developments through increased integration, commissioning, proper and adequate sequencing and scheduling, and documentation at design, construction, and occupancy stages. Kuwait Environmental Protection Agency (KEPA), Kuwait Institute of Environmental Management (KIEM), Kuwait Municipality, and Kuwait Institute of Science and Research (KISR) were also suggested as the main bodies to drive the education, awareness, and training, of not only the construction industry but also the general population on good IAQ practices.
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