NCEF Resource List: Portable Classrooms
NCEF - National Clearinghouse for Education 

MY PAGE   |  
Filter Results
Show from to present
Show from to present
Show all citations
Show Abstracts
Hide Abstracts

Information on the design, manufacture, and use of portable structures on school campuses, compiled by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.

References to Books and Other Media

What the Schools of the Future Could Look Like
Borgobello, Bridget
(Gizmag, Feb 06, 2012)
Descriptions of the winners of the "Future Proofing Schools" design competition where designers where invited to submit their ideas for the next generation of relocatable classrooms. The competition, sponsored by the University of Melbourne, the Melbourne School of Design (MSD) and the Australian Institute of Architects, sought to elicit innovation, creativity and blue-sky thinking future.

LAVA: Classroom of the Future
(Designboom, Jan 25, 2012)
Shows a classroom of the future, a prefabricated and relocatable classroom unit that integrates into the landscape while enhancing the learning environment, allowing adjustments for changing needs of remote schools. Transforming the stigma of unsightly and unpleasant moveable architecture, this design attempts to make learning fun and exciting within a sustainable, practical and cost effective structure. Designed by Australia's laboratory for visionary architecture [LAVA]. Includes renderings, diagrams, and perspectives.

Portable Classrooms. [IAQ Design Tools for Schools]
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Air Quality Design Tools for Schools. , 2012)
Information on common problems with portable classrooms, including separate checklists for specifying new portable classrooms, commissioning, and operations and maintenance.

2012 South Carolina Minimum Specifications Guide for Relocatable Classrooms.
(South Carolina Dept. of Education, Office of District Facilities Management, Columbia , Dec 07, 2011)
Provides guidance to local school districts to assist them in determining the feasibility of relocatable classroom units for their school needs and to set forth certain minimum mandatory construction, safety, and utility requirements that must be complied with by any manufacturer, vendor and/or contractor supplying a relocatable classroom unit for use in the South Carolina public schools. 12p.

Improved Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality for Relocatable Classrooms.
(Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, U.S. Department of Energy , 2011)
Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Environmental Energy Technologies Division teamed with stakeholders including a manufacturer of relocatables, and school districts to find out if relocatable classrooms could be built that are energy-efficient and provide good indoor air quality (IAQ) for their occupants. This describes the results of that effort.

Relocatable Buildings 2011 Annual Report Adobe PDF
(Modular Building Institute, 2011)
Annual report on the relocatable building industry. MBI estimates that public school districts across North America collectively own and operate about 180,000 relocatable classrooms with the industry owning and leasing about 120,000 classrooms. California schools own close to 90,000 units; Texas schools own about 20,000; and Florida owns about 17,000. States like Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland own and operate about 3,000 each. 15p.

Sprout Space.
(Triumph Modular, 2011)
Describes the features of Sprout Space, sustainable modular classrooms for temporary and permanent use. These green relocatable modular classrooms, designed by architects Perkins + Will, meet CHPS and LEED® High Performance Standards.

California Portable Classrooms Study
(California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (ARB) and Calidornia Department of Health Services (DHS), Apr 01, 2010)
Comprehensive study of the environmental health conditions in portable (relocatable) classrooms. This study investigated classrooms in kindergarten through 12th grade public schools and included a large representative sample. A number of environmental problems were found in classrooms throughout California. The Report to the California Legislature: Environmental Health Conditions in California's Portable Classrooms has been submitted to the Legislature, and is available for download.

Beware "Temporary" Classrooms. Adobe PDF
(New Jersey Education Association, Trenton , Oct 2009)
Cites typical uses and problems with temporary classrooms, focusing on inadequate or unhealthy indoor conditions. Solutions are proposed and a list of 6 resources provided. 1p.

2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom.
(Architecture for Humanity, Open Architecture Network, San Francisco, CA, 2009)
Presents over 300 school designs from teams made up of architects, students, and teachers, along with detail on the award winnders. The economical designs are intended developing and under-funded areas, with an emphasis on affordability, sustainability, and portable or modular construction.

Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools. Part 2: Relocatable Classrooms.
(Acoustical Society of America, Melville, NY , Jan 2009)
Includes siting requirements, acoustical performance criteria, and design requirements for relocatable classrooms. These criteria, requirements, and guidelines are keyed to the acoustical qualities needed to achieve a high degree of speech intelligibility in learning spaces. 34p.
Report NO: ANSI/ASA S12.60-2009

Best Practices Manual and Assessment Tool: Relocatable Classrooms for High Performance Schools, 2009 edition. Adobe PDF
(Collaborative for High Peformance Schools, San Francisco, CA , 2009)
Advises school designers and builders on how to adjust their high-performance strategies to account for the differences found in a typical relocatable classroom. Issues involved with site preparation and locating the relocatable on the site are also addressed. The high-performance characteristics detailed for relocatable classrooms include enhanced daylighting, energy-efficient lighting, energy-efficient, low- noise HVAC systems, an efficient building envelope and interior material with low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC). Additional chapters detail the CHPS Relocatable Program, which gives manufacturers the option of building relocatables according to bid specifications included in the manual, or to achieve a minimum number of points based on the CHPS relocatable criteria scorecard, also included in the manual. 154p.

State Relocatable Classroom Program Handbook. Adobe PDF
(California Department of General Services, Office of Public School Construction, Sacramento , May 2008)
Provides information on California's relocatable classroom program and contains the application process, information on preparing for delivery of relocatable classrooms, district responsibilities regarding relocatable classrooms, and documentation required for reimbursements. It also discusses regulations regarding special circumstances such as building plans and alterations, removal/relocation of state relocatable classrooms, and district purchasing or "buyout" of state relocatable classrooms. Furniture and equipment regulations conclude the document. 21p.

Improving Ventilation and Saving Energy: Final Report on Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Monitoring in Sixteen Relocatable Classrooms.
Apte, Michael, et al
(Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA , Apr 04, 2008)
An improved HVAC system for portable classrooms was specified to address key problems in existing units. These included low energy efficiency, poor control of and provision for adequate ventilation, and excessive acoustic noise. Working with industry, a prototype improved heat pump air conditioner was developed to meet the specification. A one-year measurement-intensive field-test of ten of these IHPAC systems was conducted in occupied classrooms in two distinct California climates. These measurements are compared to those made in parallel in side by side portable classrooms equipped with standard 10 SEER heat pump air conditioner equipment. The IHPAC units were found to work as designed, providing predicted annual energy efficiency improvements of about 36 percent to 42 percent across California's climate zones, relative to 10 SEER units. Classroom ventilation was vastly improved as evidenced by far lower indoor minus outdoor CO2 concentrations. [Authors' abstract]

Relocatable Classrooms: Less Energy, Better Air. Adobe PDF
(California Energy Commission, Public Interest Energy Research Program, Sacramento , Nov 2007)
Summarizes research aimed at improving indoor air quality and reducing noise and energy consumption of relocatable classrooms. Researchers have developed specifications for an improved heat-pump air-conditioning system that provides a seasonal energy-efficiency rating (SEER) of 13. Field tests revealed that the units are superior to conventional units that are currently used in relocatable classrooms because they improve indoor air quality, save energy, operate more quietly, and provide similar or better thermal comfort. Although the study primarily focused on relocatable classroom applications, the wall-mounted packaged units are designed to fit on any modular or portable buildings for both new construction and retrofit applications and can be used in most U.S. climates. 2p.

Concrete Portables More Durable, Cost Effective. Full Mitigation Best Practice Story.
(U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D.C. , 2007)
Discussion of the use of more durable portables in Palm Beach County, Florida. Concrete units are being explored as a safer, cost-effective, and more durable option to easily damaged traditional classroom portables. The portables feature, reinforced roofing, impact-resistant windows, and are rated to withstand winds of 187 mph. Concrete portables can be integrated into a modular design and can be configured to almost any shape or for any purpose. 3p.

Hurricane Katrina: Army Corps of Engineers Contract for Mississippi Classrooms. Adobe PDF
(U.S. Government Accountability Office, Washington , May 2006)
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tasked the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) to purchase temporary classrooms for Mississippi schools. To accomplish its task, the Corps placed a $39.5 million order for the purchase and delivery of 450 such classrooms. GAO received an allegation on its Fraud Hotline that the Corps paid inflated prices for the classrooms, and in response, this report reviews the facts and circumstances related to the Corps' issuance of the order. The Corps had no prior experience, no advance notice, and the need to buy the classrooms as quickly as possible. Corps contracting officials lacked knowledge of the industry and information about classroom suppliers, inventories, and prices that would have been useful in negotiating a good deal. Faced with these circumstances, they chose to purchase the classrooms by placing an order, noncompetitively, on an existing agreement with a vendor certified under the Small Business Administrations Business Development Program. The Corps accepted the vendor's proposed price of $39.5 million although it had information that the cost for the classrooms was significantly less than what the vendor was charging. Based on analysis of a quote obtained by the vendor from a local Mississippi business, the price that the vendor actually paid for the classrooms, and prices for similar units from GSA schedule contracts, it was determined that the Corps could have, but failed to, negotiate a lower price. 17p.
Report NO: GAO-06-454

Portable Classroom Design Challenge.
(Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland in partnership with the Council for Educational Facility Planners and the Emerging Green Builders of the US Green Building Council. , May 2006)
The results of a design competition for a re-locatable classroom unit are provided in a slide show with 57 photographs of winning entries. The competition was open to K-12 teams, emerging green builders, and architects and manufacturers. The design teams were required to develop a prototype for a prefabricated classroom unit that makes the learning cottage "the cool place to be" for students, staff and after hours community use. The design needed to reflect a committment to environmental stewardship and high performance standards for durability, safety and health. The teams also considered school siting issues, multiple building schemes and a good connection to the landscape or urban fabric. Information on the competition is provided, as well as list of winners and a powerpoint of the awards.

CHPS Best Practices Manual.
(The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), San Francisco, CA , 2006)
Offers guidance on creating high performance schools in California. The manual consists of six volumes. Volume I describes why high performance schools are important, what components are involved in their design, and how to navigate the design and construction process to ensure that they are built. Volume II contains design guidelines for high performance schools. These are tailored for California climates and are written for the architects and engineers who are responsible for designing schools as well as the project managers who work with the design teams. It is organized by design disciplines and addresses specific design strategies for high performance schools. Volume III is the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Criteria. These criteria are a flexible yardstick that precisely defines a high performance school so that it may qualify for supplemental funding, priority processing, and perhaps bonus points in the state funding procedure. School districts can also include the criteria in their educational specifications to assure that new facilities qualify as high performance. Volume IV (2004) covers maintenance and operations. It provides M&O staff, teachers, and administrators with strategies for avoiding improper use of building systems and poor maintenance practices that can diminish the energy performance of a school. Topics covered in this volume inlcude cleaning and calibrating building systems, selecting cleaning products, and reducing waste. Volume VI (2006) covers relocatable classrooms, ofering an overview of the pros and cons of relocatables, specifications for a high performance relocatable, and advice on requisitioning, siting, and commissioning relocatables. 717p.

Portables Toolkit. Adobe PDF
(Modular Building Institute, Charlottesville, VA , 2006)
Offers suggestions on how to acquire and maintain an agreeable installation of portable classrooms. These involve timing your acquisitions for best price, communicating your expectations clearly, selecting a suitable vendor, coordinating the project team, maintaining the units, and communicating with the industry. 8p.

Report on the 2005 Annual Performance of Monitored High Performance Mobile Classrooms. Adobe PDF
Cleveland, Tommy
(North Carolina State University, Raleigh , Dec 2005)
Presents numerous graphs comparing the energy use for a conventional versus a high- performance modular classroom. The total energy consumption of the high-performance unit was 30% less than that of the conventional unit. Figures for HVAC, lighting, hot water, and plug load use are broken out as well. Graphs are presented for each month of the year, with special attention to the extreme-temperature months of February and July. Ventilation and carbon dioxide levels are also covered. 18p.

Minimum Specifications Relocatable Classrooms. [Mississippi]
(Mississippi State Board of Education, Jackson , Sep 01, 2005)
Sets forth the state's minimum requirements to be met by any manufacturer, vendor, and/or contractor supplying a relocatable building for school use. Requirements cover approval of plans by the state, mobility, dimensions, structural design, chassis design and construction, materials, finishes, wiring, plumbing, HVAC, skirting, built-in educational furnishings, plan requirements, contractor and school authority responsibilities, and warranties. Sample framing schematics are included. Requirements were adopted in 1966 by the Mississippi State Board of Education and revised several times. 12p.

North Carolina Performance Enhanced Relocatable Classroom Project: An Evaluation of Design Changes to a Typical Relocatable Classroom. Adobe PDF
Raper, Garrett
(North Carolina State University, Raleigh , 2005)
In this study, the energy consumption of two relocatable classrooms located on the southern portion of the campus of Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, NC is investigated. One classroom, the control, was specified and purchased by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System. The other is a performance enhanced classroom designed by the Florida Solar Energy Center and purchased by the North Carolina Solar Center. Both classrooms are 24' by 40' modular structures, completely underpinned, and located adjacent to one another for a side by side comparison. The energy consumption and indoor conditions of each classroom are monitored by a data-logging system that also records outdoor conditions via a weather station. The performance enhanced classroom is equipped with a 3 ton, SEER 12 heat pump controlled by a Bard CS2000 unit, six skylights, increased insulation and envelope sealing, a demand control ventilation system with an energy recovery wheel, and a day lighting system controlled by occupancy sensors. The control classroom is equipped with a wall-mounted 10 kW electric furnace/air conditioning system. A programmable thermostat was also installed in the control classroom after two months of data was collected. A building model is prepared using the Energy-10 software package to estimate the impact the various design changes have on the energy consumption of each classroom. [Author's abstract] 54p.

California Portable Classrooms Study.
Whitmore, Roy; Clayton, Andy; Phillips, Michael; Akland, Gerry
(California Air Resources Board, Research Division, Sacramento, CA; California Department of Health Services, Environmental Health Laboratory, Berkeley, CA , Nov 2004)
The purpose of this study was to assess environmental conditions in California's portable classrooms. This report describes the sample design, the survey instruments, the data collection process, the data analysis procedures, and the results that show and compare the major characteristics of the populations of eligible public schools as well as portable and traditional classrooms. Results from this survey suggest that there are major issues associated with environmental conditions in California K-12 schools. Environmental factors, complaints, and health symptoms reported by teachers and facility managers are often different between the traditional and portable classrooms. Measured levels of formaldehyde are significantly higher in the portable classrooms. More extensive monitoring and classroom assessment are required. [Authors' abstract]

High Performance Portable Classrooms
(Oregon Department of Energy, 2004)
Specific features of energy-efficient, "healthier," more durable portable classrooms are described. While they may cost more, they have a big payoff in lower utility bills and they offer a healthier, more comfortable classroom for students and staff.

Not the Trailer: Provisional Classrooms for Primary Schools.
(Wimby! Rotterdam, the Netherlands , 2004)
Profiles SchoolParasites, three commissioned modular school designs in the Netherlands. The book documents the designs, addresses the interaction of architecture and education, the innovation of the schools, permanence and temporariness, and how intelligent and flexible solutions can play a role in the restructuring of urban areas. 176p.

Preliminary Evaluation of Performance Enhanced Relocatable Classrooms in Three Climates. Adobe PDF
Thomas-Rees, Stephanie; Parker, Danny; Sherwin, John
(University of Central Florida, Florida Solar Energy Center, Cocoa , 2004)
Summarizes comparative energy performance data from side-by-side installations of standard and energy-efficient portable classrooms in New York, North Carolina, and Florida. The monitoring showed that the heating and cooling needs dominated the energy requirements, with lighting accounting for only about 10-15% of total use. The long term energy savings of the energy-efficient models were 34% for New York, 46% for North Carolina, and 81% for Florida. The specifications of the units and nine references are included. 13p.
Report NO: FSEC-PF-382-04

HPCBS Element 6, Project 2.1.2: Energy Savings Estimates and Cost Benefit Calculations for High Performance Relocatable Classrooms: Final Report. Adobe PDF
Rainer, Leo; Hoeschele, Marc
(U.S. Dept of Energy, Office of Science and Technical Information, Washington , Nov 24, 2003)
Reports results of monitoring to develop reasonable energy performance and cost models for high performance relocatable classrooms across California climates. A key objective was to validate simulations for comparison to initial performance projections. The validated model was then used to develop statewide savings projections by modeling base case and high performance relocatable classroom operation in the 16 California climate zones. Includes 15 references. 38p.

Report to the California Legislature: Environmental Health Conditions in California's Portable Classrooms. Adobe PDF
(California Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board; California Department of Health Services, Sacramento , Nov 2003)
The purpose of this study was to conduct a comprehensive study and review of the environmental health conditions in portable classrooms; identify any potentially unhealthy environmental conditions, and their extent; and, in consultation with stakeholders, identify and recommend actions that can be taken to remedy and prevent such unhealthy conditions. The study also included a review of design and construction specifications, ventilation systems, school maintenance practices, indoor air quality, and potential toxic contamination including mold and other biological contaminants. Results and recommendations are detailed. 220p.

Assessment of Organic Compound Exposures, Thermal Comfort Parameters, and HVAC System-driven Air Exchange Rates in Public School Portable Classrooms in California
Shendell, Derek Garth
(Thesis (Ph.D.)Submitted to University of California, Los Angeles, CA , Aug 2003)
The prevalence of prefabricated, portable classrooms (portables, relocatables, RCs) has increased due to class size reduction initiatives and limited resources. Classroom mechanical wall-mount heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems may function improperly or not be maintained; lower ventilation rates may impact indoor air and environmental quality (IEQ). Materials in portables may off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde, as a function of age, temperature, and humidity. For a pilot study, public K-12 schools located in or serving target areas within five Los Angeles County communities were identified. In two communities where school districts (SD) consented, 1-3 randomly selected portables, one newer and one older, and one main building control classroom from each participating school were included. Sampling was conducted over a five-day school week in the cooling and heating seasons, or repeated twice in the cooling season. Measurements included passive samplers for VOCs, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, and air exchange rate (AER) calculation; indoor air temperature and humidity; technician walk-through surveys; an interview questionnaire above HVAC system operation and maintenance (O and M). Measured classroom AER were low, formaldehyde concentrations were below the state indoor air guideline 'target level', and concentrations of most target VOCs were low. O and M questionnaire results suggested insufficient training and communication between custodians and SD offices concerning HVAC systems. Future studies should attempt larger sample sizes and cover larger geographical areas but continue to assess multiple IEQ parameters during occupied hours. Teachers, custodians, and SD staff must be educated on the importance of adequate ventilation with filtered outdoor air. [Author's abstract] 448p.

Comparison of Predicted and Derived Measures of Volatile Organic Compound inside Four Relocatable Classrooms Due to Identified Interior Finish Sources.
Hodgson, Alfred; Shendell, Derek; Fisk, William; Apte, Michael
(California Energy Commission, PUblic Interest Energy Research Program, Sacramento , Jun 2003)
Reports on laboratory and field studies showing that indoor environmental quality impact of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions are minor when relocatable classrooms are ventilated at or above code-minimum requirements. Assuming code-minimum ventilation rates are maintained, the benefits attributable to the use of alternate, low-VOC interior finish materials in relocatables constructed by the manufacturer associated with this study are small, implying that it is not imperative to use such alternative finishing materials. However, it is essential to avoid materials that can degrade indoor environmental quality, and the results of this study demonstrate that laboratory-based material testing combined with modeling and field validation can help to achieve that aim. 31p.
Report NO: LBNL-52520

Modular Building Institute. 2003 Educational Showcase.
Roman, Michael; Robert, Laurie; Reynolds, Pamela; Ulrey, Bill; Crawford, Doug; Shield, Tom; Soenksen, Steven
(Modular Building Institute, Charlottesville, VA. , 2003)
"Commercial Modular Construction Magazine" regularly contains articles where the use of modular schools and classrooms is highlighted. This document contains a selection of those articles, including: (1) "Relocatable Classrooms Come of Age" (Michael Roman); (2) "Systems Building" (Laurie Robert); (3) "Realizing Modular's Merits" (Michael Roman); (4) "Toward Cooler, Quieter, Energy-Efficient Portable Classrooms" (Pamela Reynolds); (5) "Modular Construction Delivers NJ Pre-School" (Bill Ulrey); (6) "School District Saves $200,000 with Permanent Modular Construction" (Doug Crawford); (7) "Access Analysis for Two-Story Classrooms" (Tom Shield); and (8) "Replacement Modular Buildings" (Steven Soenksen). 26p.

The Acoustical Environment. Adobe PDF
Smith, Melissa
(Carpet and Rug Institute, Dalton, GA , May 25, 2002)
Asserting that without an adequate acoustical environment, learning activities can be hindered, this paper reviews the literature on classroom acoustics, particularly noise, reverberation, signal-to-noise ratio, task performance, and recommendations for improvement. Through this review, the paper seeks to determine whether portable classrooms provide acoustically adequate environments for learning. 19p.

Palm Beach School Board Acquisition of Relocatable Classrooms Examined
(Florida State Legislature, Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, Tallahassee , Apr 2002)
This report, responding to a Florida legislative request, examines the Palm Beach County School Board's planned purchase of concrete relocatable classrooms. Following are the findings. (1) Concrete units are more expensive than models with metal stud walls; both types meet state building code standards. (2) The district plans to spend $35 million over 5 years to purchase 500 concrete relocatables. (3) The district's purchase price for concrete relocatables is higher than prices for similar units in other districts. Concrete relocatables are more expensive to purchase and move than alternative types of relocatables, but have the appearance of permanent construction and may have a longer life. (4) If the district purchases 500 concrete units as planned, it will spend approximately $12.7 million more for these units over the 5-year period than if it had bought metal stud wall units. In addition, it costs $1,150 more to move a concrete unit to another location than a metal stud unit. (5) The district reasoned that concrete units were more durable and safer. However, the district did not conduct a life-cycle cost analysis prior to its decision. To better justify future relocatable expenditures, the report recommends that the board conduct life cycle cost analyses to compare available relocatables. 8p.
Report NO: 02-23

TO ORDER: Oppaga Report Production, Claude Pepper Bldg., Room 312, 111 W. Madison St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1475. Tel: 850-488-0021, 800-531-2477; Fax: 850-487-3804.

Remedies for Reducing Formaldehyde in Schools.
(California Air Resources Board; California Department of Health Services, Mar 2002)
These recommendations for basic measures for a school to implement in order to reduce elevated formaldehyde levels in classrooms include the following: 1) reduce total amount of formaldehyde sources in the classroom; 2) provide sufficient ventilation; and 3)test the air. 3p.

Modular Building Institute 2002 Educational Showcase. Adobe PDF
(Modular Building Institute, Charlottesville, VA , 2002)
This publication contains brief articles concerned with modular school structures. Some articles offer examples of such structures at actual schools. The articles in this issue are: (1) "Re-Educating Schools" (Chuck Savage); (2) "Tax-Exempt Financing for Public Schools" (John Kennedy); (3) "Help Us Rebuild America" (Michael Roman); (4) "Case Study: Addition Helps School Keep Pace with Growth" (Laurie Robert); (5) "President's Message: Can You Hear Your Facilities Costs Skyrocketing?" (Michael Roman); (6) "Charter School: Up & Running" (Doug Crawford); and (7) "Preventing Mold Growth in Temporary School Structures" (Bruce Stewart). 26p.

Portable Classrooms Pacific Northwest.
(U.S. Department of Energy project, with the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership, 2002)
Provides technical assistance to portable classroom manufacturers, school districts and related organizations interested in improving the quality of learning and energy efficiency of portable classrooms. Several portables at various sites in the Pacific Northwest are being monitored.

Energy and Indoor Environmental Quality in Relocatable Classrooms. Adobe PDF
Apte, M.G.; Hodgson, A.T.; Shendell, D.G.; Dibartolomeo, D.; Hochi, T.; Kumar, S.; Lee, S.M.; Liff, S.M.; Rainer, L.I.; Schmidt, R.C.; Sullivan, D.P.; Diamond, R.C.; Fisk, W.J.
(Indoor Air 2002, The Ninth International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, Monterey, CA , 2002)
Reports the preliminary results of a study of four energy-efficient relocatable classrooms, designed and constructed to demonstrate technologies that simultaneously attempt to improve energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality. Two were installed at each of two school districts, and energy use and IEQ parameters were monitored during occupancy. Two (one per school) were finished with materials selected for reduced emissions of toxic and odorous volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Each relocatable had two HVAC systems, alternated weekly, consisting of a standard heat-pump system and an indirect-direct evaporative cooling (IDEC) system with gas-fired hydronic heating. (Includes eleven references.) 6p.

Predicted Concentrations in New Relocatable Classrooms of Volatile Organic Compounds Emitted from Standard and Alternate Interior Finish Materials.
Hodgson, Alfred; Fisk, William; Shendell, Derek; Apte, Michael
(E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Environmental Technologies Division, Berkeley, CA , Jul 18, 2001)
Reports on a laboratory study evaluating emissions of toxic and/or odorous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used to finish the interiors of new relocatable classrooms. The study implemented a procedure for VOC source reduction by testing and selecting lower-emitting materials as substitutes for standard materials. In total, 17 standard and alternate floor coverings, wall panels and ceiling panels were tested for emissions of VOCs using small scale environmental chambers. Working with a manufacturer of conventional relocatables and two school districts, specifications were developed for four new relocatables predominantly finished with standard materials. Alternate carpet systems, an alternate wall panel covering and an alternate ceiling panel were selected for the two other relocatables based on the results of the laboratory study and considerations of cost and anticipated performance and maintenance. 36p.

Northwest Portable Classroom Project: Final Report.
(Washington State University Extension Program, Olympia , Mar 31, 2001)
Presents findings and recommendations regarding energy efficiency in portable classrooms. The research used newly built and retrofitted energy-efficient portable classrooms, along with an existing control. The findings describe typical points of air leakage and heat loss, inadequate or incorrectly timed controls, and poorly designed fenestration and ventilation. The costs for retrofitting older portables was deemed reasonable and considerably less than the cost of a new classroom. Practical recommendations for retrofitting existing and specifying in new portables are included. 25p.

Modular Building Institute 2001 Educational Showcase. Adobe PDF
(Modular Building Institute, Charlottesville, VA , 2001)
This publication contains brief articles concerned with modular school structures. Some articles offer examples of such structures at actual schools. The articles in this issue are: (1) "An Architect's Perspective: Convincing a Skeptic" (Robert M. Iamello); (2) "66 Portables for San Mateo High" (Steven Williams); (3) "Case Study: Charter Schools" (Robert Airikka); (4) "Studyin' Trailers--Part 3" (Michael I. Roman); (5) "Design-Build" (Linc Moss); (6) "How To Obtain a Modular Facility Identical to a Site-Constructed Facility" (Mike Morton); (7) "Permanent Modular Construction: A Growing Trend" (Steve Sickman); (8) "Studyin' Trailers--Part 2" (Michael I. Roman); (9) "Classroom Accessibility" (Robert Gorleski); (10) "Hall-Dale Elementary" (Steven Williams); (11) "Laying A Foundation" (Jerry Brosius); (12) "Modular 101" (Michael I. Roman); (13) "So, You Want To Buy a Portable Classroom" (Randall D. Holler); (14) "Studyin' Trailers--Part 1" (Michael I. Roman); and (15) "Temporary Classrooms" (Judy Smith). 44p.

Cost of Portable Classrooms.
Tanner, Ken
(University of Georgia, College of Education, School Planning and Design Laboratory, , Jun 17, 2000)
Brief outline of costs associated with the procurement and set-up of portable classrooms. The example is from a Georgia school district. This compares the cost per square foot of building a 900 square foot classroom to the cost of purchasing a new trailer. 2p.

Modular Building Institute 2000 Educational Showcase. Adobe PDF
(Modular Building Institute, Charlottesville, VA , 2000)
This publication contains brief articles concerned with modular school structures. The articles offer examples of such structures at actual schools. The articles in this issue are: (1) "Elementary K-8 Modular Courtyard"; (2) "School District #33, Chilliwack, BC"; (3) "New Elementary School for Briarwood, NY"; (4) "Addition to Queens Intermediate School"; (5) "Elementary School Addition for Patterson, NJ"; (6) "Federal Way Public Academy"; (7) "Awakening Seed School"; (8) "Challenge Charter School"; (9) "Flagstaff Montessori School"; (10) "Gateway Headstart"; (11) "J. P. Ryon Elementary School Gets Temporary Classrooms"; (12) "Hartfound County, Md. Gets New Classrooms"; (13) "Children First Daycare Center"; (14) "Central High School"; (15) "College Wood Elementary"; (16) "Private School Addition, Toronto, Ontario, Canada"; (17) "Portable Classroom, Burlington, Ontario, Canada"; (18) "Echo Shaw Elementary School, Cornelius, Oregon"; (19) "Educational Classrooms, New York, New York"; (20) "Dillard University Dormitory New Orleans, Louisiana"; (21) "Temporary Classrooms, Houston, Texas"; (22) "Inland Hill Church Educational Building, China, California"; (23) "Daycare Center, Richmond, Texas"; (24) "Josiah Quincy Upper School, Boston, Massachusetts"; (25) "Special Education Building, Oberlin, OH"; (26) "St. Maximilian Kolbe Church, West Chester, Pennsylvania"; (27) "Permanent Daycare Center, Buffalo, New York"; (28) "Woodmont Academy, Woodstock, Maryland"; (29) "Life Christian Academy, Riverside, California"; (30) "Brice Christian Academy, Columbus, Ohio"; (31) "Cincinnati Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio"; and (32) "Bellevue Daycare Center, Bellevue, Washington." 33p.

Evaluation of Energy Efficiency Improvements to Portable Classrooms in Florida.
Callahan, Michael P.; Parker, Danny S.; Sherwin, John R.; Anello, Michael T.
(University of Central Florida, Florida Solar Energy Center, Cocoa , Nov 1999)
Findings are presented from a 2-year experiment exploring ways to reduce energy costs and improve the learning environment in Florida's 25,000 portable classrooms. Improvements were made in two highly instrumented portable classrooms in the following areas: installation of a T8 lighting system with electronic ballasts; a high efficiency heat pump with enthalpy recovery ventilation (ERV); a metal white reflective roof system; and an occupancy based control system for lighting and air conditioning. Findings reveal the lighting system and occupancy control reduced lighting energy use by an average of 53 percent from one year to the next. The ERV provided five times the ventilation air found in the initial configuration, while still controlling indoor humidity to an acceptable level; this significantly cut internal CO2 levels with a potential beneficial impact on indoor air quality. Total reduction in space conditioning energy needs was 39 percent or about 6.9 kWh/day. The project demonstrates the feasibility of altering new portable classrooms in Florida so that they use 40 percent less electricity. Energy savings greater than 30 percent were demonstrated for existing portable classrooms through automated controls and simple changes to the lighting system. 19p.
Report NO: FSEC-CR-1133-99

TO ORDER: Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Rd., Cocoa, FL 32922-5703. Tel: 407-638-1011

Environmental Health Consultation: Review of Environmental and Clinical Laboratory Information: Saugus Unified School District. [California] Adobe PDF
(California Dept. of Health Services, Environmental Health Investigations Branch, Oakland , Aug 1999)
Parents of children in the Saugus Union School District in California were concerned about the safety of classrooms, particularly portable classrooms. Their concerns were amplified by assertions of a local medical toxicologist following evaluations of some teachers and students, and by an Environmental Working Group report about alleged problems with portables throughout California. Efforts by the school district, environmental consultants, and Los Angeles County health authorities were not sufficiently reassuring to some parents. This report discusses results from an evaluation of the classrooms by the Environmental Health Investigations Branch (EHIB) of the California Department of Health Services. Findings indicated no elevated health risks to students. The report's first part details evaluation methods and findings, while the second part directly answers each of the questions posed to EHIB staff at a parent meeting. Data tables provide results of environmental sampling at each school. (Consultations with outside authorities are appended. Contains 68 references.) 70p.

Reading, Writing, and Risk: Air Pollution Inside California's Portable Classrooms. Adobe PDF
Ross, Zev A.; Walker, Bill
(Environmental Working Group, Washington, D.C. , May 1999)
A California report examines the air pollution risk levels in the State's portable school facilities, the State's response, and recommendations for protecting children's and teacher's health in these types of classrooms. The report reveals that over two million California students spend the school day in buildings that may be harmful to their health. It states that some portable classrooms can expose children to toxic chemicals at levels that pose an unacceptable risk of cancer or other serious illness, but that California has no indoor air health standards for most toxins found in types of buildings and has has failed to exercise effective oversight over air quality. What types of pollution health risks exist in portable classrooms are detailed, particularly risks from formaldehyde and carbon dioxide. Additionally reported are the unintended consequences of the State's push for the use of portables to address student population increases. (Contains 59 references.) 37p.

Advisory on Relocatable and Renovated Classrooms. IAQ Info Sheet. Adobe PDF
(California Department of Health Services, Indoor Air Quality Section , Dec 1998)
Many California school districts, in complying with the Class Size Reduction Program, will obtain relocatable classrooms directly from manufacturers who are under no specific guidelines or codes relative to indoor air quality (IAQ). This document, designed to aid school facility managers in minimizing potential IAQ problems, summarizes the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) considerations regarding the purchase/lease of relocatable classrooms and the contracting for renovation of existing space. The key IEQ concerns and preventive measures are provided for relocatable classroom design, construction/installation and first-use, and maintenance. Some issues apply to both relocatable and renovated classrooms. Resource information providing further technical details is provided. 5p.

Indoor Environmental Quality in California Schools: Critical Needs.
(California Interagency Working Group on Indoor Air Quality, Sacramento, CA, Aug 1998)
This report evaluates the current status and critical needs of California schools' facilities with respect to indoor environmental quality (IEQ). It presents a review of available information and a set of recommendations and proposals. Contains a section on portable (relocatable) classrooms.

Energy Efficient Florida Educational Facilities. Improvements to a Portable Classroom in a Volusia County School Adobe PDF
Callahan, Michael P.; Parker, Danny S.
(Building Design Assistance Center, Florida Solar Energy Center , Jun 1998)
The Florida Department of Education is monitoring the energy use of two adjacent portable classrooms to compare their energy efficiency in a hot and humid climate and determine if they can be made more energy efficient either by retrofit or when the portables were constructed. This report provides the background of this research and describes the portable classroom's lighting, roofing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems; and discusses results and conclusions. 8p.
Report NO: FSEC-CR-1008-98

Portable Classrooms: The Permanent Solutions.
Roman, Michael I.
(Modular Building Institute, May 1998)
Summary and findings of a Florida Center for Community Design and Research report, published in November 1993, investigating the use of portable classrooms as a cost efficient and educationally effective means of handling the on-going short fall of permanent facilities.

Portable School Buildings: Scourge, Saving Grace, or Just Part of the Solution? Adobe PDF
(EdSource, Inc., Palo Alto, CA , Apr 1998)
This report explores the current role of portable classrooms in California schools and the options available for their use. It examines how widespread portables are, and estimates that more than 86,500 were in use in 1997-1998, a significant increase over previous years, which is partly attributable to the state's classroom reduction plan in grades K-3. The different types of portables being used vary widely, but all of the models must be approved either by the Department of State Architect (DSA) or built under the regulations of the Department of Housing. The construction process for DSA portables is described, along with the practice called "piggybacking," in which several school districts purchase portables together. Some of the issues related to the use of portables include abuses of DSA regulations, elevated maintenance costs, and proper maintenance. Outlines some considerations of the role that portables should play in the increased need for classroom space. Also presents a chart that compares permanent constructions with portable classrooms. 10p.

Modular Building Institute 1998 Educational Showcase. Adobe PDF
(Modular Building Institute, Charlottesville, VA , 1998)
This publication contains brief articles concerned with modular school structures. Many articles offer examples of such structures at actual schools. The articles in this issue are: (1) "Modular Classroom Additions"; (2) "Heywood Elementary School Project"; (3) "King County Directors Association (KCDA) Signs Contract for Modular Classrooms"; (4) "Freshman Campus at Tuscon, AZ"; (5) "Relocatable Classroom"; (6) "Northridge--The Modular Building Industry & the Reconstruction of California State University" (Lisa Gergen); (7) "Portable Classrooms: The Permanent Solution" (Michael I. Roman); (8) "Virgin Islands Classroom Project"; and (9) "Rosewood, Ohio Project." 18p.

The Use of Relocatable Classrooms in the Public School Districts of Florida. Adobe PDF
Cooke, Steven Arthur
(Florida Center for Community Design and Research, Tampa, FL , Nov 16, 1993)
This study examines the current use of manufactured relocatable (portable) classrooms in the public school districts of Florida to determine whether their use is a cost efficient and educationally effective and safe means of handling short-term accommodation needs. Areas of research include: economic impacts; the physical classroom environment; facility planning; construction methodology; and impacts on existing facilities. The study contains questionnaire data received from 57 school districts and 900 teachers; 23 relocatable site visits throughout Florida; manufacturing site visits; and results from meetings with principles, teachers, contractors, and industry representatives. The study concludes with answers to the questions posed in the RFA from the Florida Department of Education Office of Educational Facilities along with recommendations concerning the design and planning of future relocatable classroom facilities. 232p.

References to Journal Articles

Easing Overcrowded High Schools With Limited Capital Funds
Lighthall, Christina
Educational Facility Planner; v46 n1 , p35-38 ; Jun 2012
Based on the experience of the Wake County Public Schools in Raleigh, NC, this explores the pros and cons of various solutions to accommodating students when funding is scarce, high schools are crowded, and more students are expected. Discusses adding mobile trailers, manipulating times, manipulating grades, and creating ninth grade centers.

Go Home With a Green Classroom: High Performance Prefab Classrooms.
Dekovic. Ariel
Green Technology; Aug 2011
Describes the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) new Prefab Classroom program that expands the CHPS Verified program to provide a certification for high performance modular and relocatable classrooms.

Let’s Take Prefab Back One Classroom at a Time.
Lo, Yu-Ngok
AIA Architect; Jul 08, 2011
Describes the Los Angeles Unified School District’s competition to design a pre-fabricated school building that’s flexibly attuned to its site and ecologically sustainable. Explains what a portable and modular classroom is, and discusses the advantages and disadvantages. Outlines opportunities for architects in their design.

With Design Competition, the Los Angeles Unified School District Looks for Prefab Solutions.
Moses, Nalina
AIA Architect; Jul 08, 2011
To upgrade their facilities and replace portable classrooms, Los Angeles held a design competition for modular pre-fabricated schools flexible enough to respond to their site and environment. Details the three winning prototypes for the educational buildings.

Prototype Designed to Meet LAUSD Needs
School Construction News; May 19, 2011
Reports that the Los Angeles Unified School district has signed a contract with Gonzalez Goodale Architects through a competitive design process for new school building prototype to replace thousands of temporary classrooms. Work will begin immediately on a new academic building built primarily of prefabricated materials. The 33,000-square-foot, two- to three-story prototype will be built in two phases and will be designed with flexibility to serve as a classroom, dance studio, science lab or library, depending on the needs of the school.

Sustainable Modular Classrooms.
Hardiman, Tom
School Planning and Management; v50 n4 , p74-77 ; Apr 2011
Discusses the "green" virtues of modular school construction, with less site disturbance and more efficient use of materials. Advantages to construction scheduling, indoor air quality, and flexible deployment are also addressed, and four case studies are included.

Facility Focus: 2010 Modular Building Awards.
School Construction News; v16 n4 , p16-17 ; May-Jun 2010
Describes school facility winners of the 2010 Modular Building Awards, profiling ten temporary and permanent modular facilities.

Portable Classrooms: Immediate Solutions to a "Growing" Problem.
Patterson, Judith; Chandler, Mary; Jiang, Binbin; Chan, T.C.
School Business Affairs; v75 n6 , p23-25 ; Jun 2009
Discusses the use of portable classrooms to bridge the gap between immediate space need and the availability of funding for new construction. Advice on predicting need, financing, and addressing community concerns surrounding aesthetics and health is included, along with ten references.

Lessons Learned in Portable Classrooms.
Thomas-Rees, Stephanie; Parker, Danny
ASHRAE Journal; v51 n5 , p30-32,34-36,38-41 ; May 2009
Details the results of side-by-side studies of traditional and newer modular classroom units, with the latter being designed to use less energy, deliver improved indoor air quality, and have more daylighting. The study was conducted at elementary and high school sites in New York, Florida, and North Carolina. The study revealed minimal savings realized in lighting costs, but a 36, 46, and 81 percent savings in heating and cooling costs realized in New York, North Carolina, and Florida, respectively. Includes 13 references.

Do Portable Classrooms Impact Teaching and Learning?
Chan, Tak
Journal of Educational Administration; v47 n3 , p290-304 ; 2009
Examines the possible impact portable classrooms have on the teaching and learning process by exploring current related literature. The article takes a synthesis approach, analyzing current studies to assess the impact of portable classrooms on teaching and learning. The research found no significant impact of portable classrooms on teacher perception, teacher morale, teacher job satisfaction, student achievement, and behavior. Negative student attitude is found in one of the studies reviewed. Technical testing shows negative relationships between portable classrooms and health and safety conditions, but the permanent structures are sometimes worse. Still, the negative effects of deterioration or lack of maintenance cannot be underestimated; making implementation strategies, maintenance schedules, relocation plans, and plans for ultimate replacement vital.

Much-Needed High School Built on Navajo Reservation in Eight Months.
Walley, Catherine
School Planning and Management; v46 n4 , p30,32 ; Apr 2007
Reviews the creation of this Arizona reservation school, featuring culturally significant design elements derived from trips through the surrounding landscape, and then incorporated into a cost-saving modular construction.

Schoolhouse of the Future?
Mitchell, Tucker
The Herald; Mar 06, 2007
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) is ready to test an economical, easy-to-build design that was spawned by a hurricane. ‘Learning Cottages’ could replace mobiles or serve as new construction.

The Commercial Modular Market Remains Strong.
Building Design and Construction; , p43-44 ; Dec 01, 2006
During the past three years, commercial modular manufacturers have seen a growing percentage of their modular production targeting the education market. Relocatable classrooms (and, more recently, modular classrooms) account for almost half (46%) of all commercial modular business, with $1.63 billion in annual sales. This discusses what is driving this trend: class size reduction initiatives; growing student populations; increasing costs per square foot of site-built school construction; and growth of the overall educational construction market.

When Enrollment Soars.
Shroades, Renee
Maintenance Solutions; v14 n10 , p8,10 ; Oct 2006
Describes some measures that school districts take when enrollment rapidly outgrows available teaching space, often made even more difficult when districts operate under mandates to reduce classroom size. Emergency conversion of non-teaching space into classrooms, aggressive new building and renovation programs, and portables are discussed, as are proper communication between facilities staff and those who make enrollment projections.

Raising the Bar.
De Patta, Joe
School Construction News; v9 n4 , p26,27 ; May-Jun 2006
Presents an interview with Anja S. Caldwell that discusses the green portable classroom design competition that she initiated, features of the Montgomery County, Maryland, green schools initiative, and advice to other officials on committing to sustainable building programs in their districts.

Improving the Performance of Portable Classrooms.
Hardiman, Tom
School Business Affairs; v72 n5 , p8,10 ; May 2006
Reviews the current use of portable classrooms in the United States while describing improvements in their energy efficiency, offering suggestions for maintaining good indoor air quality in them, and recommending active maintenance with timely replacement of units.

The Emerging Role of Portable Classrooms in Sustainable Design.
Hardiman, Tom
School Construction News; v9 n4 , p12,13 ; May-Jun 2006
Cites the improved energy efficiency of today's portable classrooms while recommending material and landscaping solutions to ensure good indoor air quality and prevent water intrusion that can cause mold. Also recommended are HVAC systems that are quieter and energy efficient, and timely retirement of worn-out portable classrooms.

Instant Classrooms.
Dolan, Thomas
School Planning and Management; v45 n4 , p18,20 ; Apr 2006
Discusses temporary and permanent modular construction, citing their differences and describing precast modular construction in particular.

Project FROG May Push School Trailers to Leap Ahead.
Leisner, Hava
School Construction News; Mar 2006
With 118 public school sites in San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom is hoping a sustainable classroom prototype, known as "Project FROG," will provide an improved way to accommodate schoolchildren who are currently housed on campuses in trailers, some of which are poorly insulated and leak.

Outside the Box.
Schibsted, Evantheia
Edutopia; v2 n1 , p30-32 ; Feb 2006
Describes portable classrooms being installed at the Country School of Valley Village, California, that are designed to be attractive and healthy, with high ceilings, abundant daylighting, sustainable and nontoxic materials, and adequate ventilation.

Redesigning Pandora's Box: The Future of Portables at Albuquerque Public Schools.
Larroque, Andre
Educational Facility Planner; v41 n1 , p26-29 ; 2006
Profiles Albuquerque Public Schools' use of portables, including the evolution of construction types, costs, aesthetic concerns, perceptions of their occupants as "second class" school citizens, problems with lighting and water supply, appreciation of individual HVAC control, and landscaping. Includes one reference.

Redevelopment Planning after Hurricane Katrina: Challenges Facing Education and School Facility Design.
Hill, Franklin
School Business Affairs; v 71 n11 , p22-25 ; Dec 2005
Outlines recovery goals and strategies for areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, emphasizing a multiregional plan that includes coordinated multicounty oversight of construction, creation of joint-use facilities and cross-curricular K-12 schools with flexible design for future conversion, modular buildings, continual communication with the public, re-usable design prototypes and systems construction, design improvements for stronger storm resistance, and use of available commercial facilities for educational purposes.

Fresh Start.
Slessor, Catherine
Architecture; v94 n9 , p42-49 ; Sep 2005
Describes South London's Lavender Sure Start and Children's Centre, which employs wood-cladded prefabricated construction to create a sensitive children's environment. Photographs, plans, and a list of project participants are included.

Turning Portable Classrooms into Positive Learning Environments.
Chan, Tak; Tubbs, Eric; Jiang, Binbin
School Business Affairs; v71 n5 , p14,16-18 ; May 2005
Details 13 general, interior, and exterior conditions that should be met in order to have modular or portable classrooms accepted by the students, teachers, and neighbors. Includes six references.

Portable versus Permanent Classrooms: Student Attitude, Behavior, and Achievement.
Chan, Tak Cheung
Educational Facility Planner; v40 n2 , p3-10 ; 2005
Compares differences in attitude, behavior, and achievement of students housed in portable versus permanent classrooms. Fifth grade students in 21 portable and 38 permanent classrooms were studied, with the results showing significantly more positive attitude for those students in permanent classrooms. No significant difference was found in student behavior and achievement, however. Includes 27 references.

Water Source Heat Pump for Modular Classrooms.
Forrest, Andrew; Leach, James
Energy Engineering; v102 n2 , p18-38 ; 2005
Reports on an investigation of design improvement for a water source heat pump where the water was stored in flexible plastic bladders resting on the ground beneath modular classrooms. The design improvements replaced the bladders with heat exchangers constructed of PVC pipe. Design, costs, and assembly procedures for the PVC heat exchanger are presented.

Transportable Classrooms: "Outposts for Conquest"; A Conceptual Designer Envisions a Solution for Keeping Classrooms Flexible.
Pesanelli, David
The Futurist; , 3p. ; Jan 2005
Article discusses rethinking transportable classrooms to turn them into truly dynamic learning environments.

Evidence of Inadequate Ventilation in Portable Classrooms: Results of a Pilot Study in Los Angeles County
Shendell, D.G.; Winer, A.M.; Weker, R.; Colome, S.D.
Indoor Air; v14 n3 , p154 ; Jun 2004
The prevalence of prefabricated, portable classrooms (portables) for United States public schools has increased; in California, approximately one of three students learn inside portables. Limited research has been conducted on indoor air and environmental quality in American schools, and almost none in portables. Available reports and conference proceedings suggest problems from insufficient ventilation due to poor design, operation, and/or maintenance of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; most portables have one mechanical, wall-mounted HVAC system. A pilot assessment was conducted in Los Angeles County, including measurements of integrated ventilation rates based on a perfluorocarbon tracer gas technique and continuous monitoring of temperature and relative humidity. Measured ventilation rates were low. Compared with relevant standards, results suggested adequate ventilation and associated conditioning of indoor air for occupant comfort were not always provided to these classrooms. Adequate ventilation has the potential to mitigate concentrations of chemical pollutants, particles, carbon dioxide, and odors in portable and traditional classrooms, which should lead to a reduction in reported health outcomes, e.g., symptoms of 'sick building syndrome', allergies, asthma. Investigations of school indoor air and environmental quality should include continuous temperature and relative humidity data with inexpensive instrumentation as indicators of thermal comfort, and techniques to measure ventilation rates. [Authors' abstract]

Air Awareness.
Apte, Michael; Shendell, Derek, Hodgson, Al
American School and University; v76 n6 , p42,44,47 ; Feb 2004
Discusses proper HVAC for relocatable classrooms.

Salvaging the Steel Frame Makes Portables Permanent.
Korman, Richard
ENR: Engineering News-Record; v251 n25 , p17 ; Dec 22, 2003
The San Juan Unified School District outside Sacramento is stripping its aging inventory of portable classrooms and retrofitting them with better floors and walls and lighting and windows, making them permanent and saving thousands of dollars per unit in the process.

Portable Classrooms.
Webber, Whitney
The CHEC Report [Children's Health Environmental Coalition, Princeton, NJ]; Oct 07, 2003
Describes potential indoor air pollutants in portable classrooms, distinguishing between substances likely found in new versus old units. Offers advice to parents of children suspected of being sickened by portable classroom indoor air.

The California Portable Classroom Study and Its Impact on Classroom Ventilation.
Miller, Layne
Commercial Modular Construction; , 3p. ; Oct 2003
This article explores why the Environmental Health Conditions in California’s Portable Classrooms study, released in 2003, was conducted and what the results mean with regard to the heating, cooling, and ventilation of classrooms.

Associations Between Classroom Carbon Dioxide Concentrations and Student Attendance in Elementary Schools in Washington and Idaho.
Shendell, Derek G.; Prill, Richard
Indoor Air Quality in Northwest Schools; , p6-9 ; Fall 2003
This article is based on a Lawrence Berkeley National Lab report. The study involves CO2 measurements inside and outside the 436 classrooms of 22 schools in Washington and Idaho. According to the authors, "In this study, 1,000 [parts-per-million] increases in the difference between indoor and outdoor CO2 concentration were associated with 10 percent to 20 percent relative increases in student absence, and the associations were statistically significant. This study confirms previous findings of high CO2 concentrations in classrooms, which indicated classroom ventilation rates were often below the minimum rates specified in codes." [Authors' abstract]

Portable Classrooms: Where Are They Going?
Perez, Jennifer; , 3p. ; Aug 2003
This discusses the growing need for portables because of increasing enrollments, intra-district shifts, the push for earlier education for children, continuing education for adults, lower student-teacher ratios, aging facilities, and tightening budgets. Private schools and charter schools are also seeking faster, lower-cost options. Modulars are built to specific building codes, require miminum maintenance, last for decades, and can be designed to withstand heavy wind and snow loads and unique site conditions.

Using Small Reverse Cycle Air Conditioners in Relocatable Classrooms-A Case Study
Fuller R.J.; Luther M.B
Energy and Buildings; v35 n6 , p619-629 ; Jul 2003
TO ORDER: Ingenta Connect

Moving to Modular.
Buchanan, Bruce
American School Board Journal; v190 n6 , p36-38 ; Jun 2003
Describes issues related to the use of modular (relocatable) classroom facilities. The Modular Building Institute provides information on modular buildings.

Modular Buildings.
Reynolds, Pamela
School Planning and Management; v42 n3 , p36-38 ; Mar 2003
Describes the testing by Berkeley lab scientists of an experimental ventilation system to improve indoor air quality in portable classrooms and use a third of the energy of current systems.

No Place Like Home.
Ezarik, Melissa
District Administration; Feb 2003
Advice on planning for and using portable classrooms, and on thinking in new ways about their potential for learning. Includes interviews with architects, planners, and school administrators.

Access Analysis for Two-Story Classrooms.
Shields, Tom
Modular Construction; Jan 2003
The purpose of this article is to examine State and Federal accessibility law, district responsibilities, and potential liabilities in the use of elevators versus wheelchair lifts where modular or relocatable two-story classrooms are added. This article deals primarily with issues in the state of California.

Modular Construction Delivers New Jersey Pre-School.
Ulrey, Bill
Modular Construction; Jan 2003
Case study of the Early Childhood Development Center at the Samuel Smith Elementary School in Burlington City, New Jersey. This is a single-story, twelve-classroom facility built within 8 months using modular technology.

Portable or Modular? There Is a Difference.
Morton, Mike
School Business Affairs; v68 n8 , p9-12 ; Sep 2002
Describes differences between two types of school facilities: portable (prebuilt, temporary wood structure installed on site) and modular (method of construction for permanent buildings). Provides details of modular construction.

Toward Cooler, Quieter, Energy-efficient Portable Classrooms.
Reynolds, Pam
Science Beat [Berkeley Lab]; Aug 26, 2002
This article discusses a recent project by Berkeley Lab scientists to test an experimental ventilation system that would improve indoor air quality in portable classrooms and use a third of the energy of current systems.

Improving a Good Thing.
School Planning and Management; v41 n7 , pMB12-MB13 ; Jul 2002
Summarizes research from the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida which demonstrated that improvements in portable classrooms involving illumination and ventilation saved Florida 40 percent in electric use and $6 million in energy costs.

Realistic Planning with Portable Classrooms.
Roman, Michael I.
School Planning and Management; v41 n7 , pMB6-MB9 ; Jul 2002
Discusses why it is not wise to address the need for short-term space with the least expensive portable classrooms available. Explains that the problem is not that minimum specification trailers deteriorate rapidly with poor maintenance, but that perceived short-term requirements often turn out to be long-term. Asserts that portable classrooms should be considered as part of the permanent facilities plan.

Case Study: Addition Helps School Keep Pace with Growth.
Robert, Laurie
Commercial Modular Construction Magazine; Jun 2002
This case study explores the progression of modular construction over a five year period - from the single wood framed relocatable classroom through to the multi-story steel and concrete building addition - all on one school site in Toronto, Canada.

Help Us Rebuild America.
Roman, Michael
Commercial Modular Construction Magazine; Jun 2002
This article describes a joint research project of the U.S. Department of Energy Rebuild America program and the Modular Building Institute to investigate potential energy efficiency measures that could be incorporated in newly manufactured portable classrooms.

Re-Educating Schools.
Savage, Chuck
Commericial Modular Construction Magazine; Jun 2002
The purpose of this article is to re-educate everyone associated with a school building program to the benefits of modular construction and what the industry has to offer. The major advantages of permanent modular construction are explored.

It s Never Been Easier for Your School To Get Space.
Vecchiolla, Joe
School Planning and Management; v41 n3 , p46-49 ; Mar 2002
Offers suggestions on choosing modular space for schools. Advice is provided based on school needs: (1) How soon is the space needed? Is there a crisis situation or time to plan? (2) How much flexibility is needed for relocation? and (3) What are the financing issues? Is it better to buy or lease?

The Challenges of Mold.
Commercial Modular Construction; , p22-23 ; Jan-Feb 2002
One modular building manufacturer discusses its efforts to learn about and prevent mold in portable classrooms. Understanding the ecology of mold and the life cycle or use of a portable classroom can help in developing design features.

Preventing Mold Growth in Temporary School Structures.
Stewart, Bruce
Commercial Modular Construction; , p24-25 ; Jan-Feb 2002
Any school building, permanent or temporary, can support mold growth, given the right materials being wetted for long enough. However, for a number of reasons, temporary buildings, including portable classrooms, seem to have a higher experience of mold growth. This article describes what a school board official can do to prevent mold growth in buildings.

Modular Buildings: A Quick, Quality Solution for Schools.
School Planning and Management; v40 n7 , Supp. MBI1,3-12 ; Jul 2001
Highlights the history of the modular classroom industry and emergence of the Modular Building Institute. Analyzes the differences between temporary portable classrooms and permanent modular additions. Also examines the possible influence of modular classrooms on future facility design and the ways that educational facilities officials are saving time and money by "going modular." Also describes EnergySmart Schools.

Studyin' Trailers. Part III.
Roman, Michael
Commercial Modular Construction Magazine; Jul 2001
This focuses on actual costs for portable classrooms including operating and maintenance savings over various periods. In addition, breakeven analyses is offered under a variety of scenarios.

Studyin' Trailers. Part II.
Roman, Michael
Commercial Modular Construction Magazine; Jun 2001
This focuses on individual building component costs and the alternatives available. In addition, it looks at installation, operating and maintenance expenditures over the product life cycle for a low end and a higher end portable classroom.

Evaluating Potential Health Risks in Relocatable Classrooms.
Katchen, Mark; LaPierre, Adrienne; Charlin, Cary; Brucker, Barry; Ferguson, Paul
Journal of School Health; v71 n4 , p159-61 ; Apr 2001
Only limited data exist describing potential exposures to chemical and biological agents when using portable classrooms or outlining how to assess and reduce associated health risks. Evaluating indoor air quality involves examining ventilating rates, volatile organic compounds, and microbiologicals. Open communication among key stakeholders is essential. Guidelines for successful health evaluation in relocatable classrooms are presented.

Portable Classrooms no Longer Outsiders
McMenamin, Jennifer
Baltimore Sun ; Mar 05, 2001
Parents and elected officials have long complained about portables. But here is the big secret: Most of the people in them like them.

Laying a Foundation for Your Modular Building.
Brosius, Jerry
Commercial Modular Construction Magazine [Educational Showcase]; Mar 2001
Proper design and installation of the foundation are critical to the optimal performance of modular classrooms. This discusses footings, anchorage, and site work.

Classroom Accessibility.
Gorleski, Robert
Commercial Modular Construction Magazine ; Mar 2001
Discusses accessibility issues for relocatable classrooms, including accessible entrances on an accessible route, usable doors, accessible elements inside the classroom such as drinking fountains, accessible locations for electrical devices and controls, and accessible bathrooms.

Studyin’ Trailers. Part I.
Roman, Michael
Commercial Modular Construction Magazine; Mar 2001
Examines the string of complaints relating to reloctable classrooms, such as assertions that relocatable inferior classroom trailers will continue as long as the portables are an afterthought brought in to offer a short-term solution. Asserts that portable classrooms need to be viewed as part of a permanent facilities plan, and that public school districts will continue to overpay for substandard classrooms unless changes are made.

Installing Portable Classrooms With Good Air Quality.
Godfrey, Ray
School Construction News; v3 n4 , p18-19 ; Jul-Aug 2000
Discusses the advantages of modular classrooms and improvements made in indoor air quality, including the pros and cons of portables, challenges districts face when planning and installing portables, and cost considerations. Concluding comments highlight system costs and maintenance required.

Modular Buildings Are Here To Stay.
Williams, Steven; Roman, Michael I.; Tiernan, Maury; Savage, Chuck; Airikka, Robert; Brosius, Jerry L.
School Planning and Management; v39 n7, suppl. , p2-19 ; Jul 2000
Presents several examples of modular building construction being used be school districts to support their need for more space, building flexibility, and enhancement of the learning environment. Comparisons with traditionally built school facilities are offered as are answers to commonly held myths concerning modular construction.

School Security 2000.
Agron, Joe; Anderson, Larry; Henry, Kate; Kennedy, Mike
American School and University; v72 n9 , 24 ; May 2000
This supplement, a collaboration of American School & University and Acces Control & Security Systems Integration magazines, presents four articles examining the equipment and management strategies to ensure school safety. Defines the parameters and quantifies the trend in the school security arena; discusses how community unity can stabilize public schools by examining three very different school districts and how they handle security issues; explores school safety and the security of portable classrooms; and discusses developing a security plan that minimizes the potential for legal troubles by protecting both students and staff while respecting their rights.

Defeating the Drips.
Moss, Lincoln
School Planning and Management; v39 n3 , p34-36 ; Mar 2000
Discusses a holistic approach to preventing moisture penetration of exterior walls in modular school buildings, emphasizing the related topics of roof leaks and roof waterproofing, condensation, and HVAC design.

Trailer Classrooms Suprisingly Popular
Matthews, Jay
Washington Post; , pA9 ; Feb 15, 2000
For many parents, nothing in public education elicits as much scorn as a portable classroom. There are concerns about lack of bathrooms, long treks to the main building, small windows, bad air and poor maintenance. But trailers get a very different and more positive reaction from the students and teachers who use them.

Relocatable Classrooms Offer Choice and Cost Savings.
Gliemmo, Bob; Suggs, Roger
School Construction News; v3 n1 , p13 ; Jan-Feb 2000
Addresses school safety issues surrounding portable classrooms and the advantage of using portables for school districts on tight budgets. The history of portables and the options they provide school districts are highlighted.

Modular Buildings: The Answer for Today’s Schools.
School Planning and Management; Jul 1999
The manufacturers, dealers, and suppliers of factory-built commercial buildings, including temporary and permanent education facilities, represent an annual $7.5 billion industry. Relocatable classrooms are used in every state in America, and the demand for both relocatable and permanent modular buildings is escalating. This special supplement includes 7 articles discussing both portable classrooms and permanent modulars, modular construction, IAQ issues, and quality concerns.

Permanent vs Temporary School Facilities: Decision Making in an Information-rich Environment
Taylor, Raymond G.; Vasu, Michael Lee; Vasu, Ellen Storey
Education (Chula Vista, CA); v119 n4 , 706-9+ ; Summer 1999
For most school systems, a mix of temporary and permanent construction is best, however, the overwhelming proportion should be on the side of permanent structures. Accurate predictions of student growth patterns can be made in the presence of clear public policy regarding land use. This principle particularly applies to populous areas with pressure on diminishing available land. Building attractive permanent school facilities is, in itself, an element in shaping community growth patterns. Thus, there is a self-fulfilling aspect to making enrollment forecasts and building schools where these forecasts show high growth.

A Look at Portable Classrooms.
Moore, Deborah P.
School Planning and Management; v36 n6 , p10 ; Jun 1999
This defines the terms "modular," "portable," and "relocatable," and discusses reasons for relocatables. Describes how to make portables work for a school district.

Bursting Through: How Schools are Meeting the Enrollment Explosion.
Kennedy, Mike
American School and University; v71 n9 , p18-20,22,24,26 ; May 1999
Examines the problem of school overcrowding, the political resolve to help school districts cope with rising enrollment, and examples of how some districts are taking the initiative to meet their rising enrollment challenges. Included are examples of school districts use of portable buildings; the expansion, renovation, and reclamation of old schools; and new school construction.

Poor Design, Construction and Maintenance Contribute to Mould in School Portables
Fishburn, Douglas C.; Caruso, Frank
Construction Canada; , p10-13 ; Mar 1999
Due to inherant faults in the design, construction and poor maintenance practices, portable classroom buildings are a breeding ground for mould. Portables are prone to roof, wall and window leaks, and are often subject to high humidity levels due to improper ventilation, moisture evaporation from wet shoes and clothing, and wet washing of floors. Poor management of water run-off from roofs and the site is also a contributing factor. This article provides an overview of the health concerns to building occupants and how the design, construction and maintenance of portable classroom buildings has contributed to the development of this problem.

Better Building Blocks
Barnett, Robert Spencer
Building Design and Construction; , p82-86 ; Feb 1999
More than the sum of their parts, advanced modular and pre-engineered buildings now compete in quality with site-built construction. School systems are looking at the combination of modular units for classrooms and offices, pre-engineered structures for long-span, high ceiling spaces (auditoriums and gyms) and conventional construction for foundations and basements.

The School Room Debate: Choosing Between Taxes and Class Size -- and How you Feel About Trailers
Nussabaum, Debra
Philadelphia Inquirer; 1999
Known variously as portables, relocatables and modulars, classrooms anchored in schoolyards across the country are not only America's favorite quick fix for overflowing schools, but also the physical symbol of the problem.

Early-Grade Centers Ease Space Woes.
Jacobson, Linda
Education Week; , p1,14 ; Oct 14, 1998
Notes a potential trend evidenced by the decision to separate some kindergartners and other early-primary pupils from the larger elementary schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, necessitated because the district was simply out of room. The district is finding accomodations in primary centers, which employ relocatable buildings also known as portables. These can be faster to erect and less expensive than traditional facilities. Reports that the 685,000-student district has a fast-growing elementary school population and a statewide initiative to reduce the size of K-3 classes. There are plans to open an additional 18 primary centers there over the next 10 years. [Free subscriber registration is required.]

When the Homeroom is Parked Outside in the Schoolyard
Lee, Carmen J.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Aug 26, 1998
Whether called trailers, portables, modular units, bungalows, or demountables, these temporary buildings became popular after World War II to accommodate the baby boom generation's school years. Now they're experiencing a resurgence in districts across the country.

Meeting Demand.
Daneman, Kathy
American School and University; v70 n12 , p129-30 ; Aug 1998
Addresses how a school district can use temporary classroom space to meet increasing student enrollment while additional space is being built. Provides examples of using portable facilities to supplement educational sites, including how to protect students who are in portable classrooms when tornadoes appear.

Portable Authority.
Daneman, Kathy
American School and University; v70 n12 , p129-130 ; Aug 1998
Addresses how a school district can use temporary classroom space to meet increasing student enrollment while additional space is being built. Examples of using portable facilities to supplement educational sites are provided, including how to protect students using portable when tornadoes appear.

Balancing Permanent and Portable Buildings.
Fickes, Michael
School Business Affairs; v64 n7 , p36-37 ; Jul 1998
Many districts are using portables as relatively permanent installations. Although permanent buildings are more expensive to construct, their operating cost is only $1.30 per square foot, compared to $5 for portables. The overall cost of using portable classrooms to solve long-term problems eventually surpasses costs of building permanent structures. Portables also deteriorate more quickly.

Fixed Facts about Portable Classrooms.
Sturgeon, Julie
School Planning and Management; v37 n7 , p37-38,40-41 ; Jul 1998
Discusses the easing of overcrowded schools through the use of portable classrooms and provides an example from Elk Grove Unified School District (California) which has opened entire elementary schools using only portables. Fifteen tips for installing relocatables are highlighted.

Boxed-up Students Not Safe in Winds
Kunerth, Jeff
Orlando Sentinel; Jun 21, 1998
More than 100,000 Central Florida students go to school in box-like, portable classrooms that offer little protection from high winds, are often poorly inspected and in some cases are not even attached to the ground. With recent killer tornadoes focusing attention on the anchoring of mobile homes in Central Florida, the Orlando Sentinel newspaper began investigating the safety of 5,443 portable classrooms at elementary and secondary schools in six counties. This includes the results of that investigation, plus several related stories.

Relocatable Space Can Be a Fast, Flexible Solution to Crowding Problems
Wyatt, Jack
AFE Facilities Engineering Journal; Mar 1998
Today, long-term school facility plans can be thwarted by a number of different situations, including unpredictable growth, special needs and the need for lower teacher/student ratios. Describes experiences that help illustrate how mobile space helped schools keep up with changes.

Betting on Growth.
Spoor, Dana L.
American School and University; v70 n4 , p12-15 ; Dec 1997
Discusses how the Clark County School District (Las Vegas) is able to successfully manage approximately eight percent student enrollment growth per year along with one new building opening on an average of every 15 days. Managing new facility construction, making provisions for new technology, and using portable buildings to accommodate student growth are examined.

Temporary Quarters.
Wyatt, Jack
American School & University; v69 n12 , p74-76 ; Aug 1997
Examines the use of school relocatables to address the demands of increasing student enrollment and space utilization. Considerations involving location selection and building continuity are discussed as are preparatory planning for power hookups and inspections. Reasons for using relocatables are highlighted.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: The Saga of Relocatable Classrooms.
Fleming, James A.
The School Administrator; v54 n6 , p18-21 ; Jun 1997
Describes Capistrano (California) Unified School District's use of portable classrooms to solve over-enrollment problems while complying with Governor Wilson's directive to reduce class size in primary grades. When evaluating the merits of relocatable classrooms, school leaders should consider acquisition and use, identification of responsible vendors, planning, and costs. A sidebar shows how to avoid sick-building syndrome.
TO ORDER: American Association of School Administrators, 801 N. Quincy St., Ste. 700, Arlington, VA 22203-1730; Tel: 703-875-0745; Email:

Living With the Permanence of Portables.
Newquist, Colleen
Education World; 1997
Using portable classrooms to relieve school overcrowding is a solution heralded -- and hated. It's all a matter of attitude, some teachers say. While politicians and school officials argue the pros, cons and costs of school construction in Florida and elsewhere in the nation, one thing looks certain: portable classrooms, the most popular solution to overcrowding, aren't going to roll off into the sunset anytime soon.

A Mobile Proposal.
Knuffman, Susan M.
American School & University; v68 n12 , p74-75 ; Aug 1996
Describes how a Florida district accommodated an influx of students by using portable, self-contained classrooms built around a permanent core of offices: a modular campus. Discusses the search for classroom space, how to integrate the modular pieces into the setting, and outlines the savings and benefits of this process.

The Modular Solution.
Hamme, Kimberly A.
American School and University; v68 , p27-29 ; Dec 1995
School districts are using modular buildings to keep costs down and solve space problems. Modular space can be configured as classroom complexes or portable classrooms. The various uses of modular buildings is discussed as well as what administrators should consider when adding modulars, including using suppliers as consultants, planning site visits, and using turnkey services to help ensure optimal results.

Tying Down the Fly-Away School.
Fowler, Charles W.
American School & University; v67 n4 , p50,52 ; Dec 1994
Discusses proper anchoring of portable classroom buildings, and describes how one Sarasota County (Florida) school district planned and eventually utilized five different anchors to secure all of its portable classrooms. The considerations involved in selecting anchoring systems are highlighted.

The Modular Factor.
Cray, Dan
American School and University; v66 , p46 ; May 1994
Discusses the tradeoff of speed and movability versus costs when using relocatable buildings to solve educational space needs. Concluding comments address building code compliance issues driving up expenses and impacting facility planning.

Dispelling Modular Myths.
Van Doorn, Roy
American School and University; v65 n9 , p51-53 ; May 1993
Debunks the myths surrounding the use of modular facilities for solving school budgeting problems. Myths concerning poor modular strength, slow construction speed versus site-built construction, poorer durability and quality, and lack of aesthetic diversity are discussed. Comparative construction characteristics are highlighted.

Modular Buildings: A Perfect Fit for Education.
Delman, Amy S.
American School and University; v64 , p54+ ; Dec 1991

Portable/Relocatable Classrooms: A User's Point of View
Heise, Bonnie L.; Bottoms, Jeffrey
Educational Facility Planner; v28 n3 ; Jun-Jul 1990
The proliferation in the use of portable classrooms prompted a research study focused on gaining information through a survey on portables as they compare to permanent buildings from a user's point of view. The study surveyed 128 teachers working in California's San Joaquin Valley who were currently teaching, or previously had taught, in both permanent and portable classrooms. Comparisons of satisfaction were made on 19 characteristics including such things as size, lighting, window placement, noise level, safety, maintenance, location, etc. While levels of satisfaction varied among individual characteristics, overall results showed 15% of the respondents expressing more satisfaction with portables, 48% expressing the same satisfaction as with permanent classrooms, and 37% expressing less satisfaction with portables. Some of the negative comments had to do with lack of seating flexibility due to shape of classroom and location of chalkboards, window placement, bounciness of floors, isolation on campus, and maintenance. Security was another concern.

History Repeats Itself: Another Look at Relocatables
Bache, Randal; Edwards, Caroline
Educational Facility Planner; v28 n3 ; May-Jun 1990
This article gives a comprehensive, overall view of portable classrooms beginning with historical background. It discusses different types of portable construction and configuration (relocatables on concrete slab, for example); costs of purchase, leasing, hook-up, moving; expected life-span, and general advantages and disadvantages. There is a description of California specifications designed to guide one through the acquisition and approval process in California.



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).