The air quality of indoor spaces is now recognized as an important aspect of public health. Established in 2022, the Indoor Air Quality Observatory for Western and Italian Switzerland (ORTQAI in French), has the mission of assessing the air quality of building interiors. Bringing together private and public partners, ORTQAI works to identify sources of pollution, evaluate health risks, and make recommendations for healthier indoor environments. The association is led by Joëlle Goyette Pernot, professor at the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg and a member of TRANSFORM, a research institute that works closely with Smart Living Lab. The observatory’s inaugural annual meeting will take place on 23 November 2023, in Fribourg, followed by a conference on the topic air quality in school buildings.
Indoor air, a medium deserving of attention
The inhabitants of Switzerland spend an average of 80 to 90% of their time in closed spaces, and the average is higher in at-risk populations such as small children, the elderly and the sick or convalescent. Indoor environments are thus an essential aspect of public health. The Indoor Air Quality Observatory for Western and Italian Switzerland (ORTQAI) was founded on 13 October 2022 with the mission of observing and protecting air quality in indoor spaces. As expressed in the association’s mission statement, “it is more important than ever to monitor the quality of indoor air given today’s context of pollution coming from multiple sources, evolving construction practices, ambitious energy efficiency objectives, and rapid change in the global environment.” The observatory aims to gather scientific data and issue warnings on potential hazards and risks in various types of living spaces, including housing, schools, offices and public transport.
Healthy air in schools—the subject of ORTQAI’s 2023 conference
ORTQAI is a platform for knowledge exchange that brings together numerous partners, notably the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP in French) and Geneva’s Office for Air, Noise and Non-Ionizing Radiation (SABRA). SABRA included ORTQAI in its 2018-2023 policy framework on hazardous substances in the built environment. Other ORTQAI partners include research centers, private companies and engineering consultants active in the field of air quality. The observatory’s current focus is on air quality in school buildings, an important subject in light of the negative impact that high levels of CO2 can have on the cognitive abilities of children. ORTQAI is the primary scientific partner in project SCOL’AIR-FR, a research initiative led by the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg. SCOL’AIR-FR involves a field study of the air quality in Fribourg’s primary schools: more than 50 classrooms are being measured across the canton in four measurement campaigns between the autumn of 2021 and the winter of 2023. This research will be the subject of ORTQAI’s 2023 conference, which will take place on 23 November in Fribourg.
Smart Living Lab, committed to the quality of indoor environments
To ensure the sustainable quality of buildings in Switzerland, Smart Living Lab supports joint research projects by the HEIA-FR and EPFL on the theme of atmospheric pollution and its effects on interior environments. Joëlle Goyette Pernot, chair of the Western Swiss Center for Indoor Air Quality and Radon (croqAIR) and FOPH delegate in charge of radon for western Switzerland, is actively collaborating with professor Dusan Licina, head of the EPFL’s Human-Oriented Built Environment Lab, to unlock a better understanding of air pollution in buildings and its impact on human wellbeing.
ORTQAI Conference: Indoor air quality comes under the microscope in Romandie and Ticino Bluefactory Fribourg, Room HBL0 21A | 10:45-16:45
Joëlle Goyette Pernot
-heating, ventilation and air-conditioning HVAC