The Indoor Air Quality, Ventilation and Energy Nexus in the COVID-19 Context

by Talie Tohidi Moghadam, Carlos E. Ochoa Morales, Maria Lopez Zambrano, Ken Bruton, Dominic T. J. O’Sullivan


In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and environmental crises, ventilation plays a critical role in the removal of infectious pathogens. A building ventilation paradigm results in excessive energy consumption to ensure indoor air quality. At the time of writing this paper, several studies have been conducted regarding COVID-19 and ventilation; however, the energy challenges of ventilation operation under the pandemic condition has not been fully addressed by previous studies. This paper is based on a literature review of publications, using an internet-based search in different scientific databases. A data-driven keyword analysis on bibliographic data was performed based on English-language textual data of more than 267 publications downloaded from Dimensions website and using VOSviewer, a freely available software tool for analysing bibliographic data. Via analysis of co-occurrence of the specific terms in the field of COVID-19 ventilation, the trends in research publications were illustrated. The study aims to review the scientific literature of the indoor spread of SARS-CoV-2; clarify the effect of ventilation systems on airborne transmission of the virus; identify the impacts of COVID-19 mitigation measures on the energy consumption of mechanical ventilation systems; define the research gaps and future challenges. This investigation reveals a strong need for more scientific studies in reduction of the transmission risks of the SARS-CoV-2 virus through ventilation systems without compromising buildings’ energy performance. The implications of this study will establish a foundation for engineering control strategies and future energy-targeted investigations for virus transmission reduction and the enhancement of indoor air quality.

Published in: 2022: CLIMA 2022 The 14th REHVA HVAC World Congress