Improving IAQ for Schools

Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and energy conservation in schools are difficult issues to address. When faced with financial or energy constraints, school boards have a tendency to reduce IEQ requirements, jeopardizing occupant comfort or, worse, their health. Aside from local energy production, either electrical or heating, a major emphasis on building management system (BMS) operation has been proposed, with the goal of developing evidence-based energy conservation measures. Based on two field studies, a joint approach to energy and IEQ auditing was developed, establishing the current state of the secondary schools in Portugal. The current study aims to improve energy efficiency in schools by demonstrating that it is possible. The goal is to improve energy efficiency in schools by demonstrating that it is possible to improve the operation of HVAC systems and reduce energy consumption and costs while maintaining good environmental conditions.

What is the definition of indoor environmental quality?

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) refers to the conditions inside a building, such as air quality, lighting, thermal conditions, and ergonomics, as well as their effects on occupants or residents. IEQ management strategies include those that protect human health, improve quality of life, and reduce stress and potential injuries. Improved indoor environmental quality can improve the lives of building occupants, increase the building’s resale value, and reduce liability for building owners.

What is the significance of IEQ for buildings?

Because the personnel costs of salaries and benefits typically exceed the operating costs of an office building, strategies that improve employees’ health and productivity over time can provide a significant return on investment. IEQ objectives frequently center on providing stimulating and comfortable environments for occupants while reducing the risk of building-related health problems.

Project teams must balance the selection of strategies that promote efficiency and conservation with those that address the needs of the occupants and promote well-being in order to make their buildings places where people feel good and perform well. Ideally, the strategies chosen do both: solutions that save energy, water, and materials also contribute to a great indoor experience.

What are some of the most common sources of indoor air contaminants?

  • Tobacco users inside the building or near building entrances or air intakes
  • Paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants, and furniture can all emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which evaporate at room temperature and can be harmful to one’s health issues
  • Processes of combustion in HVAC equipment, fireplaces and stoves, and vehicles parked in garages or near entrances
  • Mold is caused by moisture in building materials
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Off-gassing of radon or methane from the soil beneath the building
  • Pollutants emitted by specific processes used in laboratories, hospitals, and manufacturing plants
  • Pollutants were tracked on the shoes of the occupants.
  • Respiration of occupants raises carbon dioxide levels and may introduce germs

What are the most effective strategies for increasing occupant comfort and control?

  • Make use of daylighting.
  • Install windows that are operable
  • Provide temperature and ventilation to occupants.
  • Allow occupants to control the temperature and ventilation
  • Allow occupants to control the lighting
  • Conduct occupant polls
  • Make ergonomic furniture available
  • Include a suitable acoustic design

How to improve the IEQ of the classroom?

MABEL (Mobile Architecture and Built Environment Laboratory), an Australian research facility, assessed the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of several school classrooms. 

This study, in particular, reveals international research on the subject of IEQ in school buildings and confirms the usefulness, urgency, and necessity of IEQ measurements in this area around the world. Because the majority of the existing literature on the subject appears to fall short of recognizing all sectors of IEQ, this paper would like to address the significance of multiple IEQ parameters as experienced through on-site measurement case studies.

This paper shows different aspects of IEQ measurements as measured with the MABEL facility. They show a variety of typical classroom evidence-based problems that are backed up by data. According to a literature review, similar problems in school buildings can be found in other parts of Australia as well as around the world, in both similar and dissimilar climates. Within the same classroom, a holistic IEQ measurement recognizes that there may be several outstanding as well as poor IAQ parameters. Although there may be solutions to these poor IEQ results, it is the measurement that highlights the periods, degree, and extent to which these issues occur. It is proposed here that an integrated approach to IEQ is required, as well as the development of measurement standards and reporting.

Strategies to improve the IEQ of class

  • Discuss the frequency of HVAC system inspections with your facilities and maintenance department, and develop an HVAC maintenance plan.
  • Ensure that outdoor air ventilation is provided in accordance with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard or local code by checking with your building operator.
  • Ensure that the filters are changed on a regular basis by the facilities and maintenance staff.
  • Demand Control Ventilation (DCV) and Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) are two options for improving performance and lowering energy costs.
  • Make sure your HVAC condensate pans are draining by checking with your facilities and maintenance staff.
  • Inspections for the moisture should be done on a regular basis.
  • Make mold prevention and remediation strategies.
  • Check for pests in the school environment and keep an eye on them.
  • Create an IPM strategy.
  • Instead of using pesticides, use spot treatments and baits.
  • Instead of using a broad pesticide application, use spot treatments and baits.
  • Cleaning and maintenance procedures must be effective in order to protect building systems and occupants. Individual sources of pollution, such as chemicals, can be eliminated or their emissions reduced, which is one of the most effective ways to improve indoor air quality (IAQ).

The best way to keep indoor pollutants at bay is to eliminate or control them at their source. The next line of defense is proper ventilation, which will remove any pollutants that do get in. Both approaches must be considered throughout the building’s life cycle. Project teams must balance the selection of strategies that promote efficiency and conservation with those that address the needs of the occupants and promote well-being in order to make their buildings places where people feel good and perform well. Ideally, the strategies chosen do both: solutions that save energy, water, and materials also contribute to a great indoor experience.

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