Infection control in healthcare settings has always been a top priority for building managers, but now, Sontay, a leading manufacturer of sensing devices that can monitor and report on a building’s conditions, is seeing demand for its sensors grow in other industry sectors too.

Building managers, specifiers, and designers in hospitality, residential, education and retail, are beginning to recognise the need to control the spread of infection in buildings and ensure the optimum environment for people, so they are not only comfortable, but safe too.

“Sensors play a vital role in modern Building Management Systems (BMS), measuring, reporting, and controlling a building’s environment allowing urgent action to be taken quickly if necessary. Today we really are at the beginning of a smart buildings’ revolution. Sensors are no longer just seen as necessary in large commercial and public buildings like hospitals, care homes and factories, they are becoming mainstream. We are seeing them placed into offices and private homes. New digital technology, including sensors, are really helping us to improve and manage people’s wellbeing,” said Commercial & Marketing Director of Sontay, Stacey Lucas.

Stacey believes there will be new legislation coming out around mitigating infection spread in the built environment, primarily for the healthcare and public sectors. With the introduction of Part O to the Building Regulations in England, which set standards for overheating in new residential buildings, she also believes that the government is now placing a greater focus than ever before on protecting the health and welfare of a building’s occupants.

Thankfully, there is a myriad of sensors available to ensure buildings are comfortable and safe for occupants. As well as CO2 sensors, there are PM 2.5 sensors, which measure the amount of particulate matter in the air. Studies have shown that bacteria and viruses can piggyback particulate matter. Another type of sensor that is in demand is the relative humidity (RH) sensor. Bacteria can develop in environments where there is a lot of moisture.

Humid conditions are therefore the perfect setting for bacteria to multiply. Studies show that when cold, dry air is warmed once indoors, relative humidity drops by 20%. Such a decrease makes it easier for airborne particles, including viruses, to travel. Decreasing temperature and moisture (relative humidity), creates a less hospitable environment for microorganisms to grow.

“People are becoming increasingly aware of the necessity of infection control since the pandemic began, it is important that we maintain that momentum to ensure that infection control and the importance of managing a building’s environment for the wellbeing of its occupants, continues to be a top priority for specifiers and designers alike,” Stacey concluded.