Every year acute respiratory illnesses, such as colds and influenza, cause an estimated 18 billion upper airway infections and 340 million lower respiratory infections, resulting in more than 2.7 million deaths and economic losses of billions of dollars. Respiratory infectious diseases spread mainly by airborne transmission, which is the inhalation from the air of virus or bacteria-laden particles generated during breathing, speaking and all other human respiratory activities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of this mode of disease transmission was fully exposed by experts and recognized by public health authorities. One consequence of recognition is the understanding that to protect occupants, airborne infection transmission in all shared interior spaces, which are all buildings, must be strategically controlled; this has never previously been envisioned outside specialized sections of health care facilities. Excellent research has been produced in this field to date by engineers, scientists, and clinicians, but now the global need has arisen for rapid acceleration in the research effort to discover and refine robust and scalable techniques to protect our citizens. There are challenging obstacles to this goal. For example, current systems and associated industries are well established and are so far reluctant to change; building systems are already a high economic and environmental burden; and “fresh” outside air which typically replaces indoor air contaminated by indoor sources including the occupants, may be polluted by traffic emissions or bushfire smoke. These challenges require innovative solutions forged through new scientific research and technology development with influential industry partners.
The aim of the Centre is therefore to design and develop a building system whose elements work together to reduce indoor airborne infection transmission by improving indoor air quality (IAQ) and at the same time maintaining comfort and energy efficiency.
The specific objectives of the Centre are:
- Developing human capacity in building and controlling intelligent building systems to ensure clean air and clean energy, through training and education of industry professionals. These professionals include architects, civil and mechanical engineers, facilities managers, and building system component manufacturers.
- Conducting applied research in multi-parameter optimization and using novel technologies in the context of Australian building designs and intelligent building systems.
- Improving quantitative assessment of the efficacy of building systems and their components for IAQ improvement through state-of-the-art simulations and innovative physical testing methods.
- Designing solutions and recommendations for naturally and mechanically ventilated buildings to lower the risk of infection transmission to acceptable levels within the overall context of the building system.
- Translating knowledge and innovation for the building sector through collaboration and engagement with partner organizations and the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC).
QUT Project Team
- Professor Richard Brown
- Professor Thomas Rainey
- Professor Zoran Ristovski
- Associate Professor Lindy Burton
- Associate Professor Paul Xia
- Dr Sara Omrani
- Mr Marc Dunn, Samsung Electronics Australia
- Professor Geoffrey Hanmer, ARINA/WHP Architects
- Dr Robyn Hendry, Aspen Medical Pty Ltd.
- Professor Guy Marks, UNSW
- Mr Graeme McLeish, QED Environmental Services
- Professor Jason Monty, UM
- Dr Heike Neumeister-Kemp, Mycotec
- Dr Brendan Pejkovic, AIRAH
- Mr Gregory Picker, AREMA
- A/Professor Robyn Schofield, UM
- Ms Ivi Sims, Bulcs Holdings
- Professor Giorgio Buonanno, University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Italy
- Dr Anders Hedström, IAQ Sweden AB, Sweden
- Dr Patricia Keady, Aerosol Devices, USA
- Professor Prashant Kumar, Global Centre for Clean Air Research, University of Surrey, UK
- Dr Zubin Varghese, Trane Technologies, USA
- Professor Boguang Wang, Jinan University, China
- Professor Maosheng Wang, Peking University, China
- Dr Scott Wenger, Trane Technologies, USA
- Dr Tim van der Graaf, The Netherlands
Funding / Grants
- Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centres (IC220100012) (2023 - 2028)
- University of Melbourne
- University of New South Wales
- Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturers Association of Australia (AREMA)
- ARINA/WHP Architects
- Aspen Medical
- Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air conditioning and Heating (AIRAH)
- Bulcs Holdings
- Global Centre For Clean Air Research, University of Surrey
- Handix Scientific
- IAQ Sweden AB
- Jinan University
- QED Environmental
- Samsung Electronics Australia
- Trane Technologies
- University of Cassino and Southern Lazio