The reputation of The National Association of Air Duct Specialists UK [NAADUK] has grown bigger than ever before as a beacon for standards in the ventilation hygiene industry. As this October marks seven years since its foundation, The Leaders Council looks back at the story of how the organisation was established and how it has become a leading contributor to critical guidance in its field.
NAADUK is an association for qualified ventilation ductwork maintenance technicians. During the Covid-19 pandemic it has gone from strength to strength with respect to its level of influence in the sector. The organisation was the first to produce papers about Covid spread through ventilation and mask filtration, which were distributed over an 18-month period based on information gathered from the world’s leading experts. These documents were welcomed by government and other bodies as a major contributor to guidance, leading to the third release of such information being circulated to over 67 countries by the Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estate Management [IHEEM].
All of this, remarkably, came from an organisation that this month celebrates its seventh anniversary.
Looking back seven years to the organisation’s October 2014 establishment and the incredible work that has been put in since, it is easy to understand how NAADUK has come so far in such a short space of time.
NAADUK’s foundation came about after a group of members of the Building Engineering Services Association [BESA] found themselves at odds with the industry body over technical differences. AEME and Overclean CEO, Peter Reid, who now presides over NAADUK, was joined by several other members in feeling that having a foot in both camps could be beneficial to all. For the betterment of the industry, this group of industry operators decided that a new association would be formed to help provide the best technical knowledge available.
“Despite the presence of BESA, it was clear very early on there was a consensus that the ventilation industry lacked direction and proper leadership,” Reid told The Leaders Council.
“A committee was formed with members from different disciplines. This included industry fire officers from the hospital sector, fire investigation officers, members of the London Fire Brigade, the insurance industry and many more over a two-year period. It became apparent that standards were poor and although several associations like the Fire Protection Association [FPA], Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers [CIBSE] and more had given a lot of excellent guidance, they all suffered from the collators leaving critical parts off.”
Back in 2019, the NAADUK committee sought to plug the gaping hole in critical information by putting together all-encompassing guidance, reinserting the key missing information. This brought about the idea of NAAD21, and final draft copies of the guiding document have this year been forwarded onto the insurance industry and other sectors.
“We were also the first to put forward papers on the subject of Covid-19 virus spread through ventilation and mask filtration during the pandemic,” Reid added.
“We did this several times over a period of 18 months, using information collated from the world’s leading experts. These have now been welcomed by government and other bodies as a major contributor to guidance for others, leading to the third release going out to more than 67 countries having been forwarded by the IHEEM. NAADUK continues to contribute to this guidance now.”
While the pandemic saw NAADUK step up to the plate as a key source of advice and guidance for the sector, over its seven years of existence it has exerted its influence through education as much as anything else. The organisation has regularly visited manufacturers all across Britain, some visits as part of a research programme on intumescent seals on behalf of the Association for Specialist Fire Protection [ASFP] carried out by Professor Balvinder Singh and his team. NAADUK has also worked in collaboration with Kingspan - the global leader in high-performance insulation and building envelope solutions - to help develop its lightweight duct.
“Our activities in these areas have helped establish NAADUK as a first port of call for many in the ventilation hygiene sector,” Reid explained.
“We have also extended our hand by going out and giving talks to London Fire Brigade and environmental officers across the UK and put together articles for Regulated Investment Companies [RICs]. Moreover, we have been successful in getting two of our members who are experts on hospital environments onto the British Standards panel relating to ventilation. Through this, we have managed to recently influence change on several controversial standards.”
A major milestone for NAADUK also came in the early part of 2019, when Reid first encountered Joe Lloyd, CEO of UK mobile HVAC training provider, Paddeco Ltd.
Reid recalled: “Joe had been on one of my training courses a decade earlier, and he was stunned that although the course that my company AEME offered was compliant with most National Occupational Standards [NOS] regulations, BESA would not issue SKILLcards to members as proof of their aptitude.
“In response to this, a new partnership of ideals to bring the best to industry was formed, which saw Paddeco, AEME, NAADUK and the Scottish Qualifications Authority [SQA] come together. This eventually came to fruition in July this year when we launched the UK’s first Level 5 Ventilation Hygiene Certificate.”
Following the launch of the new qualification, NAADUK and Paddeco continued to press for SKILLcard status, and having ensured its training standard courses were compliant, a new application was made in early 2021 which saw SKILLcard status granted in September by the standard setting body to the Ventilation Hygiene training course.
“Our first five full SKILLcards were issued in September this year, and I must pay tribute to the forward thinking of the Skills Council and the agreement of the BESA president, Neil Brackenridge, for making this possible,” Reid said.
“I would also like to thank Lord Blunkett and The Leaders Council who have helped us to apply pressure on the right doors to assist us in our cause, as well as all of the organisations and businesses who have believed in us from the very beginning.”
However, NAADUK and its partners show no signs of stopping here. After gaining the NOS is Ventilation and Duct Installation, NAADUK has continued in its endeavours and become the only approved certified fire damper installation and inspection course providers in the UK again in partnership with Paddeco and the SQA.
And in Reid’s eyes, this is just the beginning of what NAADUK has planned.
“We have come a long way in seven years, and we are absolutely not finished yet,” he declared.
“We are looking forward to the imminent launch of the second part of our new Regulation Guidance Standards for Indoor Air Quality in occupied zones, to help create safer and healthier environments. Meanwhile, there remain risk assessments to be addressed, including many instances of bad practice within our industry. All the while, our membership continues to grow, and we are excited for the future.”