Covid-19 Readiness for buildings and offices


COVID-19 Readiness for the ventilation of workplaces, schools and venues

Ensuring your ventilation systems are COVID-Secure

Ensuring a safe means of ventilating your building represents a vital step in ensuring that business owners can safely allow premises to be re-opened. Key to this are:

  • a clear understanding of the risk factors and virus transmission routes 
  • an understanding of what your building ventilation systems can safely permit and 
  • an understanding of how the ventilation of your building can be adapted to enable a safe return to work for as many people as possible.

COVID-19 is known to be transmitted via airborne transmission through small particles that may stay airborne for several hours. It is known to remain active for up to 3 hours in indoor air, and whilst a cleaning regime can help manage the risk of contamination from surfaces, the virus is known to travel long distances in the air ducts of ventilation systems. Ensuring the provision of as much fresh air as possible is key to reducing the viral load and protecting your staff, customers and building users.


How Skelly & Couch can help

Skelly & Couch are highly experienced Building Services engineers who have established a great reputation for designing ventilation systems within buildings including offices, laboratories, schools, theatres and factories. We have always promoted the provision of fresh air via opening windows and the health benefits associated with an adequate supply of fresh air, and are perfectly placed to help determine how to make the best of your building’s ventilation systems as we prepare to re-populate buildings.

Even the best-designed ventilation system is not optimised to dealing with COVID-19, which has reprioritised the functions of ventilation systems away from comfort and certain forms of heat recovery and towards the removal of airborne contaminants. All ventilation designs would benefit from a review to ensure that they are capable of providing what current conditions demand of them.

We are independent consulting engineers, with no relationships to any installers, manufacturers or contractors and can offer fully impartial advice. We have over 30 specialist Building Services engineers highly trained and experienced in understanding, designing and improving the ventilation systems of buildings to help maintain a healthy indoor environment. We are capable of responding rapidly to understand how the ventilation of your building operates and we can respond quickly with initial advice about:

  • how to rapidly adapt the systems in place to maximise the provision of fresh air and to use the ALARA principle (“As Low as Reasonably Achievable”) to control airborne hygiene, to help manage compliance with guidelines
  • implementing enhanced building controls to achieve the required outcomes without undue energy wastage
  • avoiding the unintended consequences of unguided ad-hoc adaptations
  • implementing the necessary adaptations, including assistance with procuring suitable installers
  • realising long-term benefits from these adaptations to improve the indoor environment, reduce the energy consumed and implement heat recovery in a healthy and sustainable fashion
  • balancing and mitigating the requirement to achieve greater levels of ventilation provision against the potential reduction in comfort conditions
  • any likely costs to adapt the systems and the implications for building running costs.


A Personalised and Adaptable Approach

Each building would be considered on its own strengths and weaknesses and our approach would be tuned to the specific requirements of each Client. Our suggested approach would be as follows:

1. Upon receiving an enquiry to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or your normal contact, we would assign a dedicated, experienced engineer to work with you to understand your building, your needs and your timescales.

2. We would give you a clear, up-front price to provide you with a site visit, an inspection of your premises and the systems within them and an interview to understand your requirements for the building.

3. We would provide a personalised report, written by Chartered Engineers and experienced building modellers indicating: 

    • how your ventilation systems operate now
    • the apparent COVID-19 associated risks and opportunities
    • how safe the ventilation appears to be and guidance on what level of occupancy your existing systems can provide, based initially on a simplified calculation method
    • the required steps to achieve this
    • any residual liability and risk exposure.

4. Following the provision of this initial report, further steps would be agreed which might include:

    • An online meeting to discuss the findings in more detail
    • More detailed modelling to provide increased certainty on the amount of ventilation that can be achieved
    • Assistance with the selection of other designers, project managers and specialist contractors who might be required to help carry out the necessary works
    • Inspection and site supervision services to help ensure quality is maintained throughout any work
    • Helping to manage the ongoing concerns of building occupants in relation to the ventilation systems
    • Assisting businesses in capitalising on this opportunity to improve comfort conditions and sustainability in the longer term
    • Outline costs for system adaptions and commentary on running costs.

Our Clients

Skelly & Couch have been trusted by major clients since 2007 for the design of safe and efficient building services. Our Clients include:

  • numerous universities including Oxford and Cambridge
  • the National Theatre, Lloyd Webber Theatres, The London Theatre Company, Shakespeare’s Globe, and several other independent theatres
  • the City of London and multiple London boroughs including Camden, Wandsworth, Havering 
  • many notable independent schools
  • Museums and galleries including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Horniman Museum, the Historic Dockyard Chatham, the Jerwood Gallery
  • The Royal Horticultural Society and the Royal Botanic Gardens.