NCEF Resource List: Thermal Comfort in Schools
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Information on thermal comfort in school classrooms and facilities, including temperature ranges, ventilation rates, and humidity levels.

References to Books and Other Media

Improved Academic Performance. Student Health and Academic Performance: Using Research to Make the Case for Comprehensive IAQ Management in Schools.
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, IAQ Tools for Schools. , 2012)
Provides links to research reports that link key environmental factors to health outcomes and students’ ability to perform. Includes the latest scientific data on indoor environmental quality, health and academic performance. Discusses why the physical environment of a school is important; what environmental factors are important and practical to address; and how much improvement can be expectec in academic performance and health.

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.

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]

Application of a School Building Thermal Response Numerical Model in the Evolution of the Adaptive Thermal Comfort Level in the Mediterranean Environment.
Conceição, Eusébio; Nunes, Abel; Gomes, João; Lúcio, Manuela
(International Journal of Ventilation, v9 n3, Dec 2010)
Reviews the adaptive thermal comfort model and then applies and compares it with the performance of the conventional thermal comfort model for a school located in a Mediterranean weather environment. Measurement data, combined with a building thermal response numerical model, are used to define the comfort performance under ambient natural ventilation and passive conditions for various classrooms. These results can then be used to identify the locations that require further measures to improve comfort, such as extra passive heat load and shading measures. The school design is based on that of an actual school and consists of three buildings, with 94 rooms. Envelope construction consists of opaque panels, 307 glazed window units and concrete floors and ceilings. The adaptive method uses external and internal environmental variables. Input data include occupation pattern and ventilation strategies. External environmental variables include air temperature, relative humidity, wind velocity and wind direction. Internal parameters include occupancy cycle, occupant activity level, clothing level, airflow rate and flow velocity. Indoor ventilation conditions are based on the airflow rate and the air velocity values measured in real classrooms. [author's abstract] 287-304

Education Case Studies.
(Lennox, Inc., Richardson, TX, 2010)
Provides case studies for ten schools that variously improved indoor air quality, saved energy, and improved thermal comfort with Lennox equipment.

Indoor Air Quality Scientific Findings Resource Bank.
(Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory, 2010)
Provides information for public health professionals, building professionals, and others who seek scientific information about the effects of IAQ on people's health or work performance. School-specific sections include Temperature and School Work Performance, Ventilation Rates and School Performance, Ventilation Rates and Absences in Offices and Schools, and Daylight, View, and School and Office Work Performance.

Window Opening Behaviour in a Naturally Ventilated School. Adobe PDF
Dutton, Spencer; Shao, Li
(International Building Performance Simulation Association , Jan 2010)
Reports on a post occupancy assessment of a new primary school was performed over a period of over one year. Concurrent measurement of window open state, CO2 concentration, temperature, and exterior environmental conditions were taken at a frequency of two minutes. In addition, classroom daily occupancy levels and monthly building energy usage were recorded. A probabilistic model of the proportion of windows open throughout the day as the occupants interact with the windows was developed based on the results of multinomial logistic regression analysis. The model was used to schedule window opening in the EnergyPlus simulation program. Predictions of both CO2 concentration and building energy performance, using the occupant behavior model, were shown to give more accurate predictions than a model based on temperature set points. [author's abstract] 9p.

Winter Indoor Air Quality, Thermal Comfort and Acoustic Performance of Newly Built Secondary Schools in England.
D. Mumovica, et al
(Building and Environment, Volume 44, Issue 7, Jul 2009)
Previous studies have found that classrooms are often inadequately ventilated, with the resultant increased risk of negative impacts on the pupils. This paper describes a series of field measurements that investigated the indoor air quality, thermal comfort and acoustic performance of nine recently built secondary schools in England. The most significant conclusion is that the complex interaction between ventilation, thermal comfort and acoustics presents considerable challenges for designers. The study showed that while the acoustic standards are demanding it was possible to achieve natural ventilation designs that met the criteria for indoor ambient noise levels when external noise levels were not excessive. Most classrooms in the sample met the requirement of limiting the daily average CO2 concentration to below 1500 ppm but just a few met the need to readily provide 8 l/s per person of fresh air under the easy control of the occupants. It would seem that the basic requirement of 1500 ppm of CO2 is achieved as a consequence of the window areas being just sufficient to provide the minimum of 3 l/s per person at low and intermittent occupancy. Thermal comfort in the monitored classrooms was mostly acceptable but temperatures tended to be much higher in practice than the design assumed. [Authors' abstract] p1466-1477

Temperature and School Work Performance.
(Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA , 2009)
Reports results of studies revealing the effect of too cool or too warm classrooms on student performance. Speed and accuracy of work were assessed and found to be affected differently. 2p.

Underfloor Air: Better Models, Better Performance. Adobe PDF
(Public Interest Energy Research Program, Sacramanto, CA , Jun 2008)
Discusses a new whole-building simulation software tool from the U.S. Dept. Of Energy that designers can use to calculate the energy use of underfloor air distribution (UFAD) systems and compare their performance to conventional overhead air distribution systems. This improved understanding of UFAD systems can lead to better system design and increased efficiency for both new buildings and retrofits. 2p.

TDV Improves Efficiency and Classroom Environment. Adobe PDF
(California Energy Commission, Public Interest Energy Research Program, Sacramento, CA , May 2008)
Describes the benefits of thermal displacement ventilation (TDV), which delivers cool air just above the floor at a very low velocity, after which it falls toward the floor and spreads across the room. As the air picks up heat from occupants and equipment, it rises to the ceiling and is exhausted from the space. Contaminants, including germs from the occupants, are carried up and out of the space instead of being mixed with the room air as they are with conventional ventilation schemes. TDV systems differ from underfloor air distribution systems in that they do not require a raised floor and they supply air at lower velocities. 2p.

Will Future Low-carbon Schools in the UK Have an Overheating Problem?
D.P. Jenkins, A.D. Peacock, P.F.G. Banfill
Apr 2008
Meeting thermal comfort and internal air quality standards for schools can be difficult for buildings that, traditionally in the UK, have not used mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning. With a trend towards increased internal gains, and climate change predicted to cause a significant rise in temperatures, this issue becomes more problematic. Considering this within the context of low-carbon buildings creates an added hurdle—can low-carbon schools be produced that will provide a comfortable teaching environment in the future? Through a series of simulations on template school buildings, this study highlights the effect that future small power and lighting energy use could have on reducing the overheating of school teaching areas. The effect of a warming climate is also estimated, and the impact that has on the internal temperatures of a school quantified. Introducing external shading and increasing ventilation in classrooms can reduce overheating significantly but, for many cases, the risk that the school building cannot cope with the overheating problem might still remain. [Authors' abstract]

Designing Quality Learning Spaces: Heating and Insulation. Adobe PDF
(New Zealand Ministry of Education, Wellington , 2007)
Advises on heating and insulation of schools, detailing perception of thermal comfort; building orientation, shading, and glazing issues; heating systems; and insulation. Additional considerations for specialized teaching areas, students with special needs, and planning new buildings and additions are also discussed. A flow diagram for assessing thermal comfort, heating and insulation survey, and 13 references are included. 56p.

Havenith, George
(UK Ergonomics Society, Ergonomics 4 Schools Learning Zone, 2007)
A suitable physical climate is needed if one is to feel comfortable and to be efficient at work. The environment feels comfortable when one is barely aware of the climatic conditions. It is only when the temperature decreases or increases beyond one's comfort limits that one becomes aware of discomfort. This discusses age and gender differences, body temperature regulation, adjusting to different temperatures, working in extreme temperatures, and problem-solving solutions with optimum conditions.

Ventilation of School Buildings (Building Bulletin 101).
(Dept. for Education and Skills, London, United Kingdom , Jul 2006)
Provides the regulatory framework in support of the United Kingdom's building regulations for the adequate provision of ventilation in schools. These guidelines consider the design of school buildings to meet the ventilation requirements of both The School Premises Regulations and the Building Regulations Part F (Ventilation). Sections of the document address ventilation of special areas, indoor air quality and ventilation, ventilation strategies, acoustics, fire precautions, natural ventilation, and system design options. 62p.

School Conditions Will Continue to Earn Failing Grades.
Sonne, Jeffrey K.; Vieira, Robin K.; Cummings, James B.
(Florida Solar Energy Center; Fifteenth Symposium on Improving Building Systems in Hot and Humid Climates, July 24-26, 2006 Orlando, FL. , Jul 2006)
This study addresses indoor air quality and general conditions problems in schools throughout the United States. Tools employed to investigate conditions include a nationwide, web-based survey, characterization of actual operating conditions in schools through field audits and diagnostic tests, and retrofits in problem schools. Survey results found temperature to be by far the greatest comfort complaint in regular classrooms, with indoor air quality (IAQ) and then humidity being the next greatest areas of complaints. Ventilation problems were found at each of eight audited schools. These problems appear to be occurring due to a combination of factors including lack of maintenance, lack of knowledge of the systems and in some cases poor system design. Four small retrofit projects were also completed. The results from this project indicate that without substantial funding for and prioritization of school maintenance, widespread significant school improvements will not be realized. [Authors' abstract] 17p.

Advanced HVAC Systems for Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance of California K-12 Schools, Displacement Ventilation Design Guide: K-12 Schools. Adobe PDF
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , Jun 2006)
Provides guidance concerning the use and implementation of displacement ventilation (DV) for K-12 schools. It serves architects, engineers, and educators seeking to understand why DV is beneficial, addresses the implications of installing DV in schools, and details a design procedure for DV systems in school applications. It contains recommendations from a range of sources, including PIER research, ASHRAE Guidelines and Standards, and practical experience gained in the design, installation, and performance monitoring of DV systems in two California schools. Topics covered include general design requirements for classrooms, air supply characteristics, diffuser specifications, architectural design issues, load calculations, system sizing, HVAC design options, and estimating energy savings. Case studies from six installations are included, as are 42 references, a glossary, and numerous figures and tables. 123p.

Advanced HVAC Systems for Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance Of California K-12 Schools: Draft / Final Research Report. Adobe PDF
Arent, John
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , Jun 2006)
Covers HVAC design considerations for displacement ventilation systems, drawn from completed research of the project, a computational flow dynamics analysis, and the results of the first demonstration classroom. The report addresses diffuser selection and layout, load calculations and system sizing and energy modeling options. The report also describes HVAC system requirements for displacement ventilation and control options. For the design phase, this report covers design requirements for TDV, load calculation procedures, energy modeling, and equipment selection. For the construction phase, the report documents show typical diffuser locations, ductwork layout, control details, and installation requirements. 23p.

Advanced HVAC Systems for Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance Of California K-12 Schools: Final Classroom Documentation Report. Adobe PDF
Arent, John
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , Jun 2006)
Documents the performance monitoring results of a displacement ventilation demonstration project at Kinoshita Elementary in San Juan Capistrano, California. The report also documents the processes of design, financing and construction of the demonstration classrooms. The unit is designed to supply a steady 65-degree supply temperature, with variable air volume to maintain comfort in the space. This report assesses the performance of the unit in meeting specifications, and a comparison of comfort, indoor air quality, and energy use with a control classroom that is served by a conventional 4-ton packaged rooftop unit. 36p.

Advanced HVAC Systems for Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance Of California K-12 Schools:Combined Document for Product Engineering Efforts Report, Research Summary Report, and Production Readiness Plan. Adobe PDF
Arent, John
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , Jun 2006)
Documents the development of a unit that can tightly control supply air temperature in a classroom thermal displacement ventilation (TDV) cooling system, in response to varying load and outdoor conditions. Also described are the steps that the manufacturer has taken towards making it a production unit. The report provides an evaluation of the unit with all available data, and identifies the steps required to make this a production unit. 20p.

Advanced HVAC Systems for Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance Of California K-12 Schools, Project 2 Final Report: Thermal Displacement Ventilation. Adobe PDF
Arent, John; Eley, Charles
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , Jun 2006)
Serves as the final project report for Project 2, Thermal Displacement Ventilation (DV) in Schools, under California's PIER IEQ-K12 Program. Key outcomes included the following: 1)Two demonstration DV systems were installed, commissioned, and monitored in two classrooms; one in southern and one in northern California. 2)Results of the DV demonstration classrooms showed that significant energy savings are possible. 3)Other results of the DV demonstration classrooms showed improved IAQ and acoustics with acceptable humidity levels. 4)Teacher feedback was positive for the DV demonstration classrooms. 5)The demonstration classrooms confirmed that DV provides good thermal comfort for classrooms with normal ceiling heights (9 feet). 6)A supply of 1,100 cfm of 65-degree air is sufficient for most classrooms in California climates. 7)The use of a tuned VAV control strategy will optimize energy savings. 8)DV can be achieved today using a variety of HVAC system designs. 9)DV provides many compelling benefits including energy savings. 43p.

Advanced HVAC Systems for Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance of California K-12 Schools: Applications Guide for Off-the-Shelf Equipment for Displacement Ventilation Use.
Blatt, Morton
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , May 2006)
Provides background information on the potential energy use, indoor air quality and acoustic benefits of displaced ventilation as well as field experience with DV in schools and commercial buildings. The applications that could benefit from use of displacement ventilation are described including facility requirements, acoustic requirements, climate-related factors, and indoor air quality. Displacement ventilation system requirements for K-12 schools are defined, including diffuser requirements, HVAC requirements, and optional HVAC system features. Mechanical system options are described including central (chiller-based) plants, packaged direct expansion (DX) variable air volume systems and packaged single zone direct expansion units. Alternative control strategies are discussed and diffuser options are presented. Includes nine references. 15p.

Adaptive Thermal Comfort and Ventilation
Santamouris, M.
(Air Filtration and Ventilation Centre (AIVC) Ventilation Information Paper, 2006)
This paper on adaptive comfort offers the basic scientific and practical information on adaptive comfort and discusses the impact of air speed on thermal comfort. 8p.

Humidity Control in Minnesota Schools. Adobe PDF
(Minnesota Dept. of Commerce, St. Paul , Oct 2005)
Offers guidance to help school building managers and operators understand the process of moisture management. It explains why controlling humidity is important and what settings to choose. It also advises on how to operate and maintain various types of humidity control systems, minimize both occupant complaints and energy bills, improve operations and maintenance of existing equipment, and make selections for equipment replacement. 30p.

The Effects of Classroom Air Temperature and Outdoor Air Supply Rate on Performance of School Work by Children.
Wargocki, Pawel; Wyon, David; Matysiak, B.; Irgens, S.
(Proceedings of Indoor Air 2005, The 10th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, Beijing, China , Aug 2005)
A field intervention experiment was conducted in two classes of 10-year-old children. Average air temperatures were reduced from 23.6oC to 20oC and outdoor air supply rates were increased from 5.2 to 9.6 L/s per person in a 2x2 crossover design, each condition lasting a week. Tasks representing 8 different aspects of school work, from reading to mathematics, were performed during appropriate lessons and the children marked visual-analogue scales each week to indicate SBS symptom intensity. Increased ventilation rate increased work rate in addition, multiplication and number checking (P<0.05), and subtraction (P<0.06). Reduced temperature increased work rate in subtraction and reading (P<0.001), and reduced errors when checking a transcript against a recorded voice reading aloud (P<0.07). Reduced temperature at increased ventilation rate increased work rate in a test of logical thinking (P<0.03). This experiment indicates that improving classroom conditions can substantially improve the performance of schoolwork by children. [Authors' abstract] 368-372p.

Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance of California K-12 Schools: D-2.5c Final Outline Specification and Schematic Design Report.
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , Jul 29, 2005)
Summarizes a general HVAC load calculation for a hypothetical single-level classroom building in coastal Southern California, and an identical building in Sacramento, including accommodations for thermal displacement ventilation (TDV). Subsequent sections of the report provide a schematic description of three design options for applying TDV in the hypothetical classroom building. For each of the three options, a summary of the system design, major components, HVAC sequences of operation, and estimated capital costs are indicated. For each design option, an effort has been made to address the relative advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of each TDV design option, and to highlight differences from conventional HVAC design approaches. A general schematic of the system layout, room layout and room section are included for each system design. 18p.

Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance of California K-12 Schools: D-2.8b Final Equipment List and Performance Specification.
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , Jul 29, 2005)
Documents the requirements for new products designed specifically for thermal displacement ventilation (TDV), with the objective of identifying new products for TDV that are not currently available. The identification of new products springs from the TDV design charrette, system design options study, and market barriers study performed in this California research project. 12p.

Room Temperature and Its Impact on Student Test Scores.
Perez, Josean; Montano, Julio; Perez, Jose
(Council of Educational Facility Planners International, 2005)
Tenth grade students from Westview High School in Portland, Oregon, decided to tackle the question of whether room temperature affects student performance. Their teachers and club advisors supervised the study. The team conducted several aptitude tests on 9th graders in classrooms with varying temperatures to determine how well they performed. This summarizes how they conducted the test and what they found. The data was not strong enough to conclude exactly the amount of effect that temperature variation has on attention span.

Effect of Indoor Environmental Quality on Occupant's Perception of Performance: a Comparative Study. Adobe PDF
Prakash, Preethi
(University of Florida, Gainesville , Jan 2005)
Reports on a study to documents the difference between the occupant's perception of performance in a LEED-certified higher education building with a higher education building that is not LEED certified. The details of the physical conditions were obtained by measuring the noise levels, lighting levels, and thermal comfort conditions at the two buildings over a period of two days in addition to contextual information on the two buildings. Occupants' perceptions were documented through web-based surveys. It was found that LEED certification did not influence the perception of the occupants. Furthermore, it was found that even though the buildings meet the recommended standards, occupants often complained about various parameters. Daylighting and thermal comfort contributed to better IEQ, and had a positive affect occupant' perception of productivity and performance. Includes 38 references. 68p.

Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance of California K-12 Schools: D-2.2d Final CFD Analysis and Documentation Report.
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , Jun 16, 2004)
Presents conclusions from computational flow dynamics analysis of various classrooms in this California research into displacement ventilation in schools: 1) Sufficient cooling and thermal comfort can be provided through two displacement diffusers, providing 65- degree supply air. 2)A 9-foot ceiling is sufficient for thermal displacement ventilation. Benefits of stratification are seen with high (12-foot) ceilings; as a result, less air is required to maintain the same room setpoint, for the same design cooling loads. 3)Marginal comfort is maintained at locations close to the diffusers. The temperatures at floor level are cool (67-68 degrees). Seated students should be situated at a distance of at least 4 feet from the corner diffusers, to stay comfortable. 4) Lighting loads contribute less heat to the occupied zone than occupant or equipment loads. 5) Displacement ventilation shows improvements in ventilation effectiveness, as evidenced by lower CO2 levels and a lower mean age of air in the occupied zone. 66p.

Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance of California K-12 Schools:D2.1b-TDV Research Coordination Final Report.
Arent, John; Eley, Charles
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , Feb 03, 2004)
Presents a report on the coordination of research for this study of thermal displacement ventilation (TDV) in California schools. The existing literature was reviewed to determine important design factors on TDV performance. The ceiling height, the location of the heat sources, and the convection heat flow at the wall impact the temperature stratification. Design guidelines were formed from results of computational flow dynamics (CFD) analysis and experimental data. These guidelines consist of predictions of floor temperature, the temperature difference between head and foot level, and ventilation effectiveness. The CFD and experimental results can support the existing design guidelines, or serve as the basis for new guidelines. Includes 30 references. 12p.

Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy.
(American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Atlanta, GA , 2004)
Specifies the combinations of indoor thermal environmental factors and personal factors that will produce thermal environmental conditions acceptable to a majority of occupants within a space. The standard addresses temperature, thermal radiation, humidity, air speed, activity, and clothing. 30p.

Educational Facilities: Planning, Modernization, and Management. Fourth Edition.
Castaldi, Basil
(Allyn and Bacon; Boston, MA , 2004)
" air temperature of 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit at shoulder height for kindergarten and primary-grade students, and of 68- 0 degrees for older students, is healthful and comfortable. Convection causes air temperatures to vary with height in any given space. The difference in temperature between the floor and the 5-foot level should not vary by more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit. The relative humidity in a space for learning strongly influences the comfort of the individual. The comfort index varies with respect to both temperature and humidity. At temperatures of about 72 degrees Fahrenheit, a relative humidity of 60 percent is quite acceptable. As air temperatures rise , however, the relative humidity should decrease if comfort is to be maintained...keep the humidity in the vicinity of 40 percent." p241

Improving Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Performance of California K-12 Schools: D2.2B Classroom Prototypes Developed Draft Report.
(Architectural Energy Corporation, Boulder, CO , Dec 05, 2003)
Discusses the full-scale mockup classrooms developed to determine the supply airflow and supply air temperature conditions necessary to meet classroom cooling loads and maintain thermal comfort in this California research. Specifications for prototypical classrooms were developed to be representative of cooling loads and operating conditions found in modern classrooms. These specifications were translated into building models, and energy simulations were run to determine boundary conditions for a range of cooling loads and conditions. 17p.

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.

Minimum Temperature in Schools.
(New York State Education Department, 2003)
The new "Property Maintenance Code of New York State", section 602.4 for "Occupiable work spaces", requires that "indoor occupiable work spaces be supplied with heat during the period from September 15th to May 31st to maintain a temperature of not less than 65ºF (18ºC) during the period the spaces are occupied." The only exceptions are for processing spaces (coolers or freezers) and vigorous physical activities areas (Gymnasiums). This is a change in mandated operating requirements.

Adaptive Thermal Comfort and Sustainable Thermal Standards for Buildings Adobe PDF
Nicol, J. Fergus; Humphreys, Michael A.
(Paper delivered at Energy and Buildings Conference, Jan 2002)
The origin and development of the adaptive approach to thermal comfort is explained. A number of the developments in the application of the theory are considered and the origin of the differences between adaptive thermal comfort and the ‘rational’ indices is explored. The application of the adaptive approach to thermal comfort standards is considered and recommendations made as to the best comfort temperature, the range of comfortable environments and the maximum rate of change of indoor temperature. The application of criteria of sustainability to thermal standards for buildings is considered. [Authors' abstract]

School HVAC Design Manual. Adobe PDF
(McQuay International, Staunton, VA , 2001)
Provides a variety of HVAC solutions for classrooms. Indoor air quality, energy efficiency, unit ventilators, water source heat pumps, fan coil units, a variety central units, duct design, and controls are discussed and illustrated with drawings and charts. 54p.

Indoor Air Quality and Student Performance. Adobe PDF
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Environments Division, Washington, DC , Aug 2000)
This report examines how indoor air quality (IAQ) affects a child's ability to learn and provides several case studies of schools that have successfully addressed their indoor air problems, the lessons learned from that experience, and what long-term practices and policies emerged from the effort. The report covers the effects from building-related illnesses, from mild symptoms of distress, the estimated loss in performance, measured loss in performance, and the measured effects of temperature and humidity. Final comments provide information on the "IAQ Tools for Schools Kit" that schools can use to improve and maintain good indoor air quality. 4p.
Report NO: EPA-402-F-00-009

Influence of the School Facility on Student Achievement: Thermal Environment
Jago, Elizabeth and Tanner, Ken
(University of Georgia, School Design and Planning Laboratory, Athens, GA , Apr 1999)
This is review of research that examines the hypothesis that the thermal environment affects academic achievement at various grade levels within the school. Some of the research dates back to the 1930's, though most research cited here took place in the 1960's. 3p.

Healthy Building Design for the Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Marketplace. Adobe PDF
Turner, William A.
(H.L. Turner Group, Inc., Concord, NH , 1999)
Examines building design and construction that helps deliver both superior air quality, occupant thermal comfort, and minimize energy consumption. Explores an integrated building systems approach that combines the principles of "directed air flow control" and "demand controlled ventilation" where ventilation is effectively delivered to the occupant, based on loading, that can be applied to all types of indoor air quality situations in all types of buildings. Highlighted are savings and return of investment data for the traditional "green building" general design strategy. Case studies provide examples of this high performance IAQ design. Key differences and advantages of a displacement ventilation design classroom versus conventional mixing ventilation systems are examined along with the expected benefits of a heating, ventilation, air conditioning school displacement design. 15p.

Equipment for Measuring Air Flow, Air Temperature, Relative Humidity, and Carbon Dioxide in Schools. Technical Bulletin.
Jacobs, Bruce W.
(Maryland State Department of Education, School Facilities Branch, Baltimore. , 1996)
Information on equipment and techniques that school facility personnel may use to evaluate IAQ conditions are discussed in this bulletin. The focus is on the IAQ parameters of air flow, air temperature, relative humidity, as well as carbon dioxide and the equipment used to measure these factors. Reasons for measurement and for when the measurement of these parameters is warranted, along with guidance for the interpretation of the data obtained, are covered. This is followed by an overview of equipment types that are available to quantify the specific parameters; a comparison table presents key factors that differentiate the types of equipment available. Various measurement techniques, such as measuring a room s air velocity, are summarized along with the methodologies recommended for obtaining useful data. Some of the common problems encountered when measuring IAQ are described. It is claimed that with a good understanding of the dynamics of the key IAQ parameters and a modest investment in monitoring equipment, school facilities staff can provide quick, cost-effective responses to IAQ complaints and establish a program that can identify potential IAQ problem areas. (Contains 5 tables and 10 references.) 9p.
TO ORDER: Maryland Department of Education, School Facilities Branch, 200 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201; Tel: 410-767-0098

Physical Environment and Middle Grade Achievement. Adobe PDF
Chan, Tak Cheung
(School District of Greenville County, Greenville, SC , 1980)
This study measured the influence of air conditioning, carpeting, fluorescent lighting, and interior pastel coloring on the academic achievement of eighth grade Georgia pupils in 1975-76 when the variance due to socioeconomic status was statistically controlled. Analysis of covariance was used to compare the achievement scores of students on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Pupil achievement in air-conditioned school buildings was consistently higher than pupil achievement in non-air-conditioned school buildings. This consistent pattern did not exist between carpeted school buildings and noncarpeted school buildings, between school buildings with fluorescent lighting and school buildings without fluorescent lighting, and between school buildings with interior pastel coloring and school buildings without interior pastel coloring. 16p.

Designing Productive Learning Environments.
Knirk, Frederick G.
(Educational Technology Publications, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1979)
"Temperature, relative humidity, air movement, odor, and air cleanliness are important when providing a comfortable environment for learning. The human organism is highly adaptive, but a student cannot attend, perceive, or process information easily when his or her physical environment is uncomfortable." "Air temperatures of 68 degrees to 70 degrees, 30 inches above the floor (20 degrees to 21 degrees C at 76cm) for primary grade students engaged in sedentary classroom activities and temperatures of 68 degrees to 74 degrees, 30 inches above the floor (20 degrees to 23 degrees C at 76cm) for older students seem to be both healthful comfortable during the heating season." p64-65

Airconditioning for Schools. Adobe PDF
(Educational Facilities Laboratories, New York, NY , Mar 1971)
Advocates air-conditioning for schools to improve educational productivity. Explains the economics of air-conditioning, the physiology of cooling bodies, the relation of learning to thermal comfort, and the integration of air-conditioning into modernization projects. The necessity and economy of air conditioning for schools with large open-space learning areas and for those with year-round usage is emphasized. 25p.

References to Journal Articles

Cause a Stir.
Steinbach, Paul
Athletic Business; v35 n7 , p36-39 ; Jul 2011
Discusses destratification of air in large athletic spaces with fans or fabric ducts. Common HVAC mistakes in these spaces are also addressed.

Building Blueprints: Kindergarten Classrooms.
Cherry, Cathy
School Planning and Management; v49 n11 , p58,59 ; Nov 2010
Advises on the design of kindergarten classrooms, emphasizing the available of intimate spaces for individual and small group activities, natural light and access to nature, thermal comfort, acoustics, and appropriate scale.

Considerations When Upgrading Renovating Window Systems.
Gille, Steve
Facilities Manager; v26 n6 , p40-42,44,46 ; Nov-Dec 2010
Advises on window selection for campus buildings, emphasizing energy efficiency, building orientation, appropriate window style, and glass selection. Acoustics, daylighting, thermal comfort, and aesthetics are also addressed.

Better Circulation.
Reed, Alex
American School and University; v83 n3 , p223 ; Nov 2010
Discusses the use of low-speed, large diameter ceiling fans to improve thermal comfort in schools.

Walls, Ceilings, and Learning.
Fickes, Michael
School Planning and Management; v49 n7 , p28-31 ; Jul 2010
Discusses the role of prevention of water intrusion into the school building envelope, ceiling tile selection, and insulation in creating a healthy, quite, and comfortable learning environment.

Maintaining Student Performance.
Fickes, Michael
School Planning and Management; v49 n6 , p26,28,30 ; Jun 2010
Describes how proper maintenance of school HVAC systems contributes to educational achievement through better air quality and thermal comfort. An example of preventive maintenance on systems in the Round Rock (Texas) School District illustrates many procedures, their respective costs, and benefits.

On the Use of Windcatchers in Schools: Climate Change, Occupancy Patterns, and Adaptation Strategies.
Mavrogianni, A.; Mumovic, D.
Indoor and Built Environment; v 9 n 3 , 340-354 ; Jun 2010
Focuses on use of a windcatcher system in typical classrooms which are usually characterized by high and intermittent internal heat gains. The aims of this paper are 3-fold. First, to describe a series of field measurements that investigated the ventilation rates, indoor air quality, and thermal comfort in a newly constructed school located at an urban site in London. Secondly, to investigate the effect of changing climate and occupancy patterns on thermal comfort in selected classrooms, while taking into account adaptive potential of this specific ventilation strategy. Thirdly, to assess performance of the ventilation system using the newly introduced performance-based ventilation standards for school buildings. The results suggest that satisfactory occupant comfort levels could be achieved until the 2050s by a combination of advanced ventilation control settings and informed occupant behavior. [author's abstract]

Energy-Saving Dorms.
Friedman, Glenn
ASHRAE Journal; v52 n5 , p20-22,24 ; May 2010
Addresses challenges and solutions for LEED-Silver (New Construction) certification for air conditioning a dormitory that regularly must content with 100-degree F temperatures. Architects and engineers must consider building design, energy efficiency, IAQ and thermal comfort, innovation, operation and maintenance, and cost effectiveness, all within university evolving targets. Follow-up includes instructing students on window use.

Out with the Old.
Rydeen, James; Stofferahn, Terry; Lange, Jim
American School and University; v82 n9 , p33-35 ; Apr 2010
Describes conventional and induction displacement ventilation in schools. The cost effectiveness, increased ventilation, and acoustical benefits are addressed, as are building and room design requirements for effective deployment of displacement ventilation.

The Thermal Comfort Zone.
Gregerson, John
Buildings; v104 n1 , p38-40 ; Jan 2010
Discusses the difficulty of achieving a unanimous perception of thermal comfort in a building, and the advantages of displacement ventilation in that endeavor. Advice on designing, computer modeling, and installing displacement ventilation is included.

Growing Green Schools.
Loftness, Vivian
Edutopia; v5 n6 , p30-32 ; Dec 2009
Reviews the benefits of "green" schools in terms of indoor air quality, thermal comfort, acoustics, cleanability, and energy savings. The nominal costs of building green and the significant increase in student achievement and life cycle costs are also described.

Cooling with Less Air.
Weidner, Steve; Doerger, Jerome; Walsh, Michael
ASHRAE Journal; v51 n12 , p34-40 ; Dec 2009
Discusses underfloor air distribution and chilled beam systems for cooling that uses less energy and delivers superior occupant comfort. The function, design, and combination of these systems are detailed, illustrated by an example of a 376,000 square foot facility housing 2,200 people.

Building Envelope: Focus on Energy.
Seaverson, Eric
Maintenance Solutions; v17 n8 , p12 ; Aug 2009
Discusses use of infrared technology and visual inspection to identify air leaks, wet insulation, and thermal bridging, along with suggested elements of a maintenance checklist and current products to remedy unsatisfactory conditions.

Circulating Ideas on HVLS Fans.
Taber, Christian
The Construction Specifier; v62 n6 , p116-120,122-125 ; Jun 2009
Disucsses advances in high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) ceiling fans that have created quiet and energy-efficient devices that can deliver significant HVAC savings by reducing the amount of ductwork needed, de-stratifying the indoor air, and allowing thermostats to be set higher in the summer and lower in the winter.

Moving Air for Comfort.
Arens, Edward; Turner, Stephen; Zhang, Hui; Paliaga, Gwelen
ASHRAE Journal; v51 n5 , p18-20,22,24,26-28 ; May 2009
Describes field study findings that reveal preferences for air movement among building occupants. In general, most occupants prefer more air movement than what they presently have. Risk of draft is small at temperatures above 72.5 degrees. Tables and charts illustrate sensory perceptions, opinions of acceptable or unacceptable air movement, and recommended elevated air speed for warmer temperatures. Includes 21 references.

Haifleigh, Susan
American School and University; v81 n7 , p46,48 ; Mar 2009
Focuses on making existing campus buildings more sustainable, beginning with assessment of energy and water use, indoor air quality, thermal comfort, materials, and construction.

Carpet Aids Learning in High Performance Schools. Adobe PDF
Hurd, Fank
Educational Facility Planner; v43 n4 , p19-22 ; 2009
Describes carpet’s benefits to the learning environment, including contributions to indoor air quality; thermal, visual and acoustical comfort, and safety.

Underfloor Air Distribution 101.
Teplitsky, Alex; Stoehr, Todd
Buildings; v103 n1 , p44,45 ; Jan 2009
Describes underfloor air distribution (UFAD) systems, created under raised floors that also provide space for most other types of service distribution systems. Pressurized and zero-pressure floors are described, as are opportunities for energy savings and improved occupant comfort.

Temporary Cooling, Long-Lasting Solutions.
Westerkamp, Thomas
Maintenance Solutions; v16 n9 , p20,21 ; Sep 2008
Advises on selecting and deploying emergency cooling, recommending that equipment be at least chosen, if not purchased, before the emergency. Types of coolers are described and capacity, vendor selection, and venting is considered.

Planning for Positive Impact: Facility Design and Student Achievement.
Heinhorst-Busby, Jennifer; Hunter, Richard
School Business Affairs; v74 n4 , p24-26 ; Apr 2008
Briefly summarizes the findings of several recent studies indicating the effect on student achievement of school building condition, thermal factors, lighting , acoustics, school and class size, and inclusive planning.

The Shape of Learning.
Horstman, Eric
School Planning and Management; v47 n3 , p26,28-30,32 ; Mar 2008
Reviews physical and sensory needs for school interiors, including carbon dioxide reduction, access to water fountains, thermal comfort, and the color selection and placement.

Rethinking Cooling Strategies.
Piper, James
Maintenance Solutions; v16 n3 , p17-19 ; Mar 2008
Advises on selecting replacement cooling equipment, which may mean re-examining cooling needs, replacement of single chillers with multiple units, and consideration of completely different cooling technologies.

HVAC and IAQ Systems.
Dolan, Thomas
School Planning and Management; v47 n1 , p91-93 ; Jan 2008
Advises on selecting a schol HVAC system for good indoor air quality, emphasizing filtration, quantity and sources of outside air, humidity control, thermal comfort, energy efficiency, geothermal technology, and post-occupancy testing.

Student-Centered Sustainable Design.
Hall, Michael
Educational Facility Planner; v42 n4 , p37-39 ; 2008
Discusses the prioritization of school sustainable design features that most directly impact occupant health and morale. These include indoor air quality, ventilation, thermal comfort, daylighting, acoustics, physical condition, small learning communities, and connection to community.

Keeping an Eye on Campus Facilities Temperatures and Humidity.
Sorensen, Chris
Campus Facility Maintenance; v4 n3 , p33,34 ; Oct 2007
Reviews the use of chart recorders and data loggers to continuously record humidity and temperature, with a goal of identifying problem areas. Instrument alarm and alert features, data handling and downloading, and calibration are also covered.

Validating Comfort Complaints with Data Loggers. Adobe PDF
Lubofsky, Evan
Facilities Manager; v23 n4 , p36-38 ; Jul-Aug 2007
Discusses us of data loggers to accurately assess thermal conditions in schools. Selection, installation, and data retrieval and analysis are covered.

An Evaluation Method for School Building Design at the Preliminary Phase with Optimisation of Aspects of Environmental Comfort for the School System of the State São Paulo in Brazil
Valéria Azzi Collet da Graçaa, Doris Catharine Cornelie Knatz Kowaltowskia, and João Roberto Diego Petreche
Building and Environment ; v42 n2 , p984-999 ; Feb 2007
This study presents a method for evaluating and optimising environmental comfort parameters of school buildings during the preliminary stages of design. In order to test the method, 39 existing public school building designs in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, had their plans analysed and characterised in relation to their influence on environmental comfort. Four aspects of comfort were considered: thermal, acoustic, natural lighting and functionality. Although conflicts between different comfort parameters are apparent, results show that multi-criteria optimisation can be applied as a design tool during the creative process. Maximisation of various aspects of comfort simultaneously was shown to be impossible, but compromise solutions could be found. [Authors' abstract]

Research Report on Effects of HVAC on Student Performance.
Wargocki, Pawel; Wyon, David
ASHRAE Journal; v48 n10 , p22-24,26-28 ; Oct 2006
Summarizes the results of a recent study to determine if increased outdoor air supply and lower classroom temperatures would improve student performance. The experimental approach and interventions of the study are described, and the results indicate that an increase in ventilation rates from 6.4 to 20.1 cfm (3 to 9 L/s) could improve student performance by 8-14 percent, while modest temperature reductions could improve performance by 2-4 percent.

Cool Roofing a Hot Topic.
Kriner, Scott
School Planning and Management; v45 n8 , p22,24-26 ; Aug 2006
Discusses the solar reflectance and thermal emittance properties of various roofing materials, with an emphasis on those that offer high values in these area and lower heating and cooling costs. Also covered are some state efforts, product advancements, and LEED incentives for cool roofing.

The Air Down There.
Milshtein, Amy
College Planning and Management; v9 n7 , p29,30,32,33 ; Jul 2006
Defines displacement ventilation (DV) and describes its benefits to air quality, energy savings, noise control, and comfort. Also included is a comparison of DV to under-floor air distribution (UFAD), examples of schools that use DV, and architectural considerations for DV installation.

Environmental Comfort in School Buildings: A Case Study of Awareness and Participation of Users.
Bernardi, Nubia; Kowaltowski, Doris
Environment and Behavior; v38 n2 , p155-172 ; Mar 2006
This paper presents the results of an extensive post occupancy study of 15 schools in the city of Campinas, SP, Brazil. The learning environments were analyzed as to thermal, acoustical, visual, and functional comfort and possible simple solutions to improve the quality of the learning environment. Classrooms and recreation areas were observed and critical comfort conditions were measured with equipment. School directors, teachers, employees and students were questioned as to their perception and evaluation of the comfort conditions and given the opportunity to express their satisfaction and desires about their learning spaces. A low level of intervention toward comfort on the part of users was attributed to discipline codes that restrict student behavior.
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On Film.
Watts, Marty
American School and University; v78 n6 , p34-36 ; Feb 2006
Describes selective solar films for windows that improves indoor air quality by reducing the amount of conditioned air needed and reducing offgassing from carpet and furniture. Films that admit natural light while blocking heat will support a daylit environment, thus reducing a subsequent need for increased artificial illumination.

Expending Energy-Conservation Goes a Long Way.
Wilkins, Michael
Campus Facility Maintenance; v3 n4 , p20-22 ; Winter 2006
Describes campus energy-saving strategies, emphasizing temperature control and campaigns to turn off lights and computers when not in use.

Window Film to the Rescue!
Kollie, Ellen
School Planning and Management; v44 n6 , p55-57 ; Jun 2005
Describes the benefits of window film that can limit solar heat gain, glare, and deterioration of furnishings from ultraviolet radiation. Minimal shattering protection is also obtained when these films are applied, but safety films (which can also control light) are required if window strengthening is sought.

Do Indoor Pollutants and Thermal Conditions in Schools Influence Student Performance? A Critical Review of the Literature. Adobe PDF
Mendell, M; Heath, G.
Indoor Air; v15 n1 , p27-32 ; Jan 2005
Presents a critical review of evidence for direct associations between these aspects of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and performance or attendance. Evidence on indirect connections potentially linking IEQ to performance or attendance is also summarized. Regarding direct associations, little strongly designed research was available. Persuasive evidence links higher indoor concentrations of NO2 to reduced school attendance, and suggestive evidence links low ventilation rates to reduced performance. Regarding indirect associations, many studies link indoor dampness and microbiologic pollutants (primarily in homes) to asthma exacerbations and respiratory infections, which in turn have been related to reduced performance and attendance.

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]

Thermal Comfort in Japanese Schools
Kwok A.G.; Chun C.
Solar Energy,; v74 n3 , p245-252 ; Mar 2003

Effects of Noise, Heat, and Indoor Lighting on Cognitive Performance and Self-Reported Affect.
Hygge, Staffan; Knez, Igor
Journal of Environmental Psychology; v21 n3 , p291-299 ; Sep 2001
Reports the result of experiments that tested the effect of temperature, lighting, and noise on cognition and sense well-being in high school students. Students remembered fewer words at 27 degrees Celsius than at 21 degrees. 1500 lux illumination yielded better long-term recall than 300 lux, as did a noise level of 38 decibels versus 58 decibels.

Water and Air: The Right Mix
Piper, James
Maintenance Solutions Online; Jan 2001
Controlling humidity in building spaces once was limited to specific areas such as computer rooms, where air that was too moist could corrode electrical contacts and air that was too dry could result in damaging static electricity. But growing concerns over indoor air quality (IAQ) and an awareness of the role that relative humidity plays in health, comfort, and productivity has made humidity control an important issue in most commercial and institutional facilities. This article discusses causes of high and low humidity and examines corrections that can be made.

Practical Guide to HVAC for Schools
Supplement to ASHRAE Journal; v40 n6 , p12-26,28-30,33-35, 37-39 ; Jun 1998
Features six articles on heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems for schools. Examines how to avoid air temperature complaints when choosing a system; special system features; engineers, indoor air quality, and schools; mechanical systems noise in classrooms; operation and management issues related to design; and details on bids and bonds. Contains 16 figures and charts; each article includes references.



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).