NCEF Resource List: HVAC Systems in School Buildings
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Information on heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems in school facilities, compiled by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.

References to Books and Other Media

Hawaii CHPS Criteria
(Collaborative for High Performance Schools, Jun 2012)
Resource used to design and construct healthy, high performance, green, schools in Hawaii. Includes prerequisites and credits appropriate to the year-round temperatures, rain and wind patterns, and humidity of the islands, as well as more distinct requirements, compliance pathways, and an extra credit for naturally-ventilated and conditioned classrooms to ensure that air quality and comfort were equivalently valued and achieved compared to those mechanically ventilated and conditioned.

EPA: IAQ Design Tools for Schools
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2012)
Website developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help school districts and facility planners find the information resources they need to design new school facilities, and repair existing facilities. Topics include: high performance schools, school siting, pre-design, materials selection, HVAC, controlling pollutants, moisture control, construction, commissioning, operations and maintenance, renovation and repair, portable classrooms, IAQ Tools for Schools.

Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) Systems
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, IAQ Design Tools for Schools, 2012)
Discusses the following: Codes and Standards; Potential for Natural Ventilation and Operable Windows; Selection of HVAC Equipment; Energy Recovery Ventilation; Location of Outdoor Air Intakes and Exhaust; Outdoor Air Quantity; Air Filtration; Ventilation Controls; Moisture and Humidity Control; Air Distribution; Exhaust Air; Designing for Efficient Operations and Maintenance; and Commissioning.

Thermal Comparison between Ceiling Diffusers and Fabric Ductwork Diffusers for Green Buildings. Adobe PDF
Fontanini, Anthony; Olsen, Michael; Ganapathysubramanian, Baskar
(Iowa State University, Ames , Jul 2011)
Compares the performance of conventional ductwork with recent advancements in fabric-based ductwork. The article focuses on the transient behavior of an on/off control system, as well as the steady state behavior of the two ductwork systems. Transient, fully three dimensional validated computational (CFD) simulations are performed to determine flow patterns and thermal evolution in rooms containing either conventional or fabric ductwork. The results conclusively show that fabric ducting systems are superior to the conventional systems in terms of efficiency. Observations from the data show that fabric ducting systems heat the room faster, more uniformly, and more efficiently. The increase in performance demonstrates the potential benefits of moving away from conventional systems to fabric systems for the construction of green buildings: particularly in conjunction with adaptive control systems. 41p.

Absence Of Classroom Ventilation At A Large Pre-k To 12 School District: Classroom Measurements, Equipment Configuration, Technical Challenges.
Kasher, Brian T.
(Presented at Indoor Air 2011, Austin, TX, Jun 08, 2011)
Classroom ventilation is recognized as a fundamental environmental component associated with the education process and academic performance. This presentation discusses classroom ventilation challenges of a large K12 school district. The district has 179 schools serving greater than 140,000 students. Thirty-one of the district’s schools are known to have an absence of mechanical ventilation to some or all educational space. Unventilated classrooms result from four primary causations. 1) Passive ventilation included in original design and construction of schools is rendered inoperable by retrofit air conditioning systems without ventilation components. 2) Economizer mode only outside air intake limits outdoor air to a few hours per year if system operates. 3) HVAC technicians called to remedy occupant temperature complaints, resulting in part from HVAC systems beyond their useful life cycle, close outside air intakes increasing HVAC heating/cooling capacity. 4) Sealing outdoor air intakes to avoid coil freezing and minimize outdoor air component maintenance requirements. District Maintenance has removed sheet metal covers over air intakes and Capital Program Services has updated a number of complete HVAC systems correcting the condition at a number of sites. Thirty-one remaining sites are subject of debate relating to ventilation necessity, definition of ventilation adequacy in terms of quantification, building configuration limitations, fiscal considerations and prioritization of competing physical plant resource need. Inadequate attention to HVAC systems often result from both competing fiscal interests and inadequate technical competencies. School occupants are generally not trained to ascertain the effects of inadequate ventilation; temperature is most often voiced concern relative to HVAC. School districts do not generally consider ventilation effects on academic performance when developing operations and capital budgets. This presentation includes discussion on internal school district considerations relative to improvement in ventilation promoting research potentials and practitioner understanding of the dynamics associated with problem resolution. [Author's abstract]

Achieving Acoustical Standards in the Classroom. Study of HVAC Systems and Classroom Acoustics. Adobe PDF
(Trane, 2011)
In recent testing, Trane has been able to prove that the ANSI/ASA S12.60 recommended sound levels can be met in new and existing schools buildings with minimal or no added cost using off-the-shelf HVAC equipment and industry-accepted design and construction practices. Trane built a classroom in its mock-up facility and tested a single-zone air handling unit and packaged rooftop unit. This paper describes those tests, the conclusion, and the resulting recommendations. 10p

Study of the Relationship Between Air-Conditioned Classrooms and Student Achievement.
Lemasters, Linda K.; Earthman, Glen
(Council of Educational Facility Planners International, 2011)
Previous research on the effect air-conditioning has upon the well being and performance of students has produced some very positive results indicating there is a relationship between the thermal environment and student achievement. Three hypotheses were developed to test the proposition that air-conditioned classrooms had an effect upon student performance. The present study used the 2001 student results of the Stanford Achievement Test, Ninth Edition in the 4th, 6th, and 9th grades to measure the effect air-conditioned classrooms have upon this performance. The mean scaled scores of the 10 subtests were used to make the comparison. The population of the study consisted of 10 school divisions in Virginia. Half of the school divisions had all of the buildings air-conditioned, while the other half had no air-conditioned buildings. Although only one statistical significant relationship was found through the ANCOVA, observations of other relationships indicated a recognizable difference between the 9th grade scores of students in air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buildings that was not present in the 4th grade scores. This leads to the belief that the longer students attend an air-conditioned building, the higher will be their achievement scores. [Authors' abstract]

References to Journal Articles

A Cool New Star in Texas
Hounsell, Dan
Maintenance Solutions; , p14-16 ; Jul 2012
Chiller replacements at the University of Texas El Paso help meet the demands of expanding campus facilities and research programs.

ASHRAE Technology Award: Old School Learns Cool New Tricks Adobe PDF
Thorson, Ryan
ASHRAE Journal; , p48-57 ; May 2012
Northwestern High School in Maple, Wis., which was built in 1937, got a new lease on life when the oldest portions of the building were removed and other sections were repurposed. This major renovation included demolishing the steam heating system, relocating the boiler room and replacing the old equipment. One chiller was installed to serve four air-handling units. This project resulted in a reduction in EUI of 40 kBtu/ft2/yr.

Below the Surface
Fickes, Michael
College Planning and Management; , p40-44 ; Apr 2012
Ball State University's geothermal heating and cooling system will save $2M per year and produce a host of environmental benefits.

Make Your School Control Itself
Fickes, Michael
School Planning and Management; Apr 2012
Describes how to control energy use by integrating the mechanical, lighting, and other building systems so that each system can be scheduled and the systems can work together and monitor performance.

Cooling Towers
Van Der Have, Pieter
College Planning and Management; , p18 ; Apr 2012
Discusses good maintenance of cooling towers, temperature control, and specific applications.

A Wrench in the Works
Fickes, Michael
School Planning and Management; , p26-28 ; Mar 2012
Discusses mechanical system maintenance, including conducting assessments that identify various maintenance needs such as recommissioning, carrying out inspections as well as preventive and corrective maintenance, and retraining maintenance technicians.

Reducing Building HVAC Costs with Site-recovered Energy
Pargeter, Stephen J,
Construction Specifier; , p48-53 ; Mar 2012
Article discusses the current state of mechanical systems and energy efficiency, in the context of green buildings. It focuses on energy recovery wheels, also known as enthalpy wheels, as being important components of energy recovery ventilation technology.

How Much Capacity is Enough?
Van Der Have, Pieter
College Planning and Management; , p16 ; Feb 2012
Considers the benefits and costs of redundancy for chillers for classroom buildings.

Induction Systems Can Cut School HVAC Costs
Caffee, Chris; Snyder, Joe
Daily Journal of Commerce; Aug 25, 2011
In a head-to-head comparison, the induction system fared better than ground-coupled heat pumps on capital costs and peak-time electricity use. Case study of the Bethel School District in Pierce County, Washington.

Critical Calculations to Stay Cool.
Westerkamp, Thomas
Maintenance Solutions; v19 n8 , p9,10 ; Aug 2011
Emphasizes need for determining the type of emergency likely to occur in a facility's setting and to anticipate access to appropriate portable cooling needs. Calculations for accurate required needs are essential.

Stretching Energy Dollars for Healthy Schools.
Angerame, Timothy
American School and University; v83 n10 , p28-31 ; Jun 2011
Introduces comprehensive monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx), a process to ensure that all building systems are "in tune." Its three components are: permanent energy information systems and diagnostic tools at the whole-building and sub-system level, retro-commissioning based on the data this generates, and ongoing commissioning that ensures efficient building operations and measurement-based savings accounting. Particular attention is given to the importance to a well-maintained chiller.

Impacting Learning.
Harris, Bill; Lambert, Chip
School Planning and Management; v50 n5 , p44-46 ; May 2011
Discusses the negative effect of classroom noise on teaching and learning, standards for classroom acoustics, and HVAC design that minimizes noise while using less energy.

Tapping into the Power of DDC.
Hounsell, Dan
Maintenance Solutions; v19 n5 , p8,9 ; May 2011
Describes benefits of direct digital control (DDC) of HVAC systems, and its application at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The ability to view real time data from several buildings, monitor equipment performance, improve occupant comfort, and save energy are described.

First LEED Platinum Pool Features HVAC Natatorium Design.
Topikian, Harry
Environmental Design + Construction; Mar 24, 2011
Case study of Philadelphia’s Kappen Aquatic Center at the Overbrook School for the Blind. The energy efficient design saves an estimated 43 percent of the 25,000-square-foot facility’s energy costs compared to a conventional natatorium. The majority of the savings comes from off-peak energy loading, architectural building envelope features such as insulated concrete forms, and a HVAC dehumidification system.

Engineering a Sustainable School.
Beddow, Bruce
Consulting-Specifying Engineer; Mar 08, 2011
Details the design of a school HVAC upgrade that included a geo-solar system. Engineers designed a system that was architecturally integrated, offering students a unique learning tool. The article includes charts that illustrate energy use and the anticipated time for the recovery of the investment is discussed.

School Building Mechanical Engineering 101.
MacFerran, Ernest
School Planning and Management; v50 n3 , p33,34,36-40 ; Mar 2011
Advises on cost-savings methods that also achieve green goals in planning for consistent and dependable indoor air quality, and reduced construction, energy, and maintenance costs. Topics include cooling tower systems, evaluation of project bids, solar hot water, sewage treatment plants, school kitchens, and insulation of classroom ductwork. Case study of Hillsborough County School District, in Tampa.

Cooling in a Crisis. [Temporary Cooling Strategies.]
Piper, James
Maintenance Solutions; v19 n3 , p4,5 ; Mar 2011
Advises on using termporary cooling technology, addressing prioritization of areas to cool, the possibility of moving activities rather than using cooling equipment, right-sizing of equipment, and types of equipment available.

Finding a Balance.
Przyborowski, Danielle
College Planning and Management; v14 n3 , p47-50 ; Mar 2011
Addresses current trends in the invisible components of building systems: foam duct insulation, greener energy systems, and water resource conservation. The article highlights Pennsylvania State University steps to establish an Energy Innovation Hub to be located at Philadelphia Navy Yard Clean Energy campus.

Breathing New Life into Old Equipment. [Retrocommissioning: Boilers and Water Heaters.]
Piper, James
Maintenance Solutions; v19 n2 , p6,8,9 ; Feb 2011
Addresses the problems associated with deteriorating boilers and domestic water heaters before the end of their rated service life. Some systems are good candidates for retrocommissioning, which provides excellent data gathering for use by technicians.



Due to lack of funding, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities is currently available only as an archived site. As of September 1, 2012 no new content will be added or updates made. We regret the need to take such steps, but should funding become available, we look forward to reinvigorating NCEF and providing this valuable resource to the educational facilities community.

If you have questions or are an organization or company wishing to support the continued operation of this industry recognized resource please contact Institute President Henry Green (, 202-289-7800).