Building Pandemic Resilience

Sustainable Development Goal target(s)

  • SDG03 (Good Health and Well-Being)
  • SDG09 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure)
  • SDG10 (Reduced Inequalities)
  • SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities)
  • SDG13 (Climate Action)
Project lead Marcus Perry, Jen Roberts, Tracy Morse
Open to year groups
  • UG Year 4
  • UG Year 5
  • PGT
Faculties/departments Civil & Environmental Engineering

Please note: availability can vary between degrees. Please contact your advisor of studies and the project lead for more information.

How to apply

To apply for this project please complete our application form.

Project overview

Building management is an important element of any robust COVID-19 response. High levels of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ), a metric comprising light, sound, perceived temperature, and air quality correlate with higher levels of occupant comfort, performance, and overall health.

Early data shows that high levels of IEQ also correlate with lower incidences of disease transmission, and better outcomes after getting sick. Despite these links, there are no routinely deployed strategies or frameworks for mitigating disease transmission or severity based on monitored data. The existing mitigation approaches primarily rely on social mixing models and contact data which often present limitations.

Studies have shown that in Europe and the US, people spend 90% of their time indoors where air pollutant levels are 2-5 times higher than outdoors. Data for low and middle-income countries (LMICs) is sparser, but we do know that gender, employment status, family size, and the local climate all have an effect on the propensity of a citizen to spend time indoors. We also know that air quality levels in LMICs can be particularly poor due to a reliance on openly burned fuels for heat and cooking.

This VIP4SD project will develop methods of using Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) metrics to rapidly inform best practice for managing and designing buildings to enhance the health and wellbeing of occupants, initially by informing short and long-term COVID-19 disaster responses.

The project aims to identify links between IEQ and COVID-19 incidence and outcomes across two case study cities (Glasgow, Scotland and Lafayette, Indiana, where project partner the University of Purdue is based).

The case studies will allow the project team to deploy similar frameworks within DAC ODA partner countries as a result.

This project will:

  • develop a publicly accessible, open-source specification which outlines development and benchmarking methods, the data inputs required, and the algorithms used
  • link data to common sources of indoor air pollution in the case studies, and therefore indicate how indoor space users and space designers can remove, minimise, or design out vulnerabilities
  • build new partnerships and strengthen existing partnerships with ODA countries e.g. in Malawi where we have existing air quality research, and India, where we have strong links with academic institutions

What will students be doing:

Students at Strathclyde, at Purdue, and at partnering Universities within LMICs will engage with live research being conducted by academic staff.

The scope of work in this VIP4SD project includes the following tasks:

  1. Engage with facility managers in Glasgow and DAC ODA nations
  2. Audit buildings and their use
  3. Deploy indoor sensor networks to collect real-time IEQ data
  4. Assess indoor and outdoor air quality, analysing IEQ data against outdoor air quality through physics- and data-led approaches to identify the causes of patterns
  5. Identify building management and design approaches to mitigate or design out drops in IEQ
  6. Develop Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for tracking COVID-19 health outcomes and/or incidence rates across buildings with various typologies, uses, and occupant groups
  7. Gather datasets of time spent indoors and air quality for Scotland and LMICs
  8. Develop algorithms to link IEQ and KPI data to better understand the causal links
  9. Identify best practice and update the open specification, using the outcomes of the study

Have more questions, or want to get involved?