Health effects of Modern Airtight Construction: HEMAC Multidisciplinary Network Summary Report

Grainne McGill, Tim Sharpe, Graham Devereux, Steve Turner

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The HEMAC network (Health Effects of Modern Airtight Construction) was established to bring together researchers and practitioners from the fields of indoor air quality (IAQ), health and the built environment to identify shared research agendas and develop research questions and activity. The network has a particular focus on challenges concerning IAQ in new-build and/or retrofitted airtight dwellings. The HEMAC network is made up of a steering committee of researchers and practitioners from medicine, indoor air science, microbiology, engineering, architecture and ventilation; including participants from the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and China. The network was established through funding received from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/N006607/1) which supported a series of initial events, including a symposium (September 2016), a workshop (November 2016) and a sandpit (April 2017), all held at the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland. The symposium provided a platform to bring participants together, to present recent findings and put forward ideas regarding gaps in the knowledge and possible research questions, which were deliberated during a discussion session at the end of the day. This was followed by an online survey, which collated opinions of symposium participants concerning key problems and challenges in the field. This information, together with the outcomes of the symposium, was used to develop a series of workshop sessions to discuss the state of knowledge in the field and stimulate ideas for multidisciplinary projects, to address the challenges of designing healthy, energy efficient homes. Nine workshop sessions were held throughout the day, which culminated with a sequence of presentation pitches from the groups on proposed multidisciplinary projects, to an audience of invited participants. The purpose of the sandpit event was to take these ideas further and develop them as funding proposals for collaborative projects. Six proposals were developed in total and are currently in development as multidisciplinary projects. Three multidisciplinary grant proposals have already been submitted to UK research councils following the workshop event in November, one of which has successfully received funding. It is hoped that the outcomes of these events will lead to large-scale multidisciplinary UK projects or initiatives to improve IAQ and ventilation provision in contemporary dwellings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages45
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • IAQ
  • housing
  • ventilation
  • energy efficient


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