Indoor Air Quality and the Schools
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a critically important aspect
of creating and maintaining school facilities. IAQ Design
Tools for Schools provides both detailed guidance as well
as links to other information resources to help design new
schools as well as repair, renovate and maintain existing
facilities. Though its primary focus is on indoor air quality,
it is also intended to encourage school districts to embrace
the concept of designing High Performance Schools, an integrated,
"whole building" approach to addressing a myriad
of important – and sometimes competing – priorities,
such as energy efficiency, indoor air quality, day-lighting,
materials efficiency, and safety, and doing so in the context
of tight budgets and limited staff.
Preliminary Design Phases
Building a school with indoor air quality that supports
the school in its primary mission of educating children
requires attention to indoor air quality issues from the
very beginning of the process.
Controlling Pollutants and Sources
To protect indoor environmental quality, the designer must
understand indoor air quality problems and seek to eliminate
potential sources of contamination that originate from outdoors
as well as indoors.
Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) Systems
The main purposes of an HVAC system are to maintain good
indoor air quality and provide thermal comfort, two key
requirements for high performance schools. HVAC systems
are among the largest energy consumers in schools.
Moisture can trigger the growth of mold that can not only
damage the school facility, but can lead to health and performance
problems for students and staff.
Poor job-site construction practices can frustrate even
the best design by allowing moisture and other contaminants
to become potential long term problems. Preventive job-site
practices will reduce the potential for residual problems
with indoor air quality in the completed building and reduce
undue health risks for workers.
If building materials, equipment, and systems aren’t
installed properly or aren’t operating as intended,
the health, productivity, and other benefits of high performance
design will not be achieved. Building commissioning is a
quality assurance program that is intended to show that
the building is constructed and performs as designed.
Renovation and Repair of Existing Schools
You can minimize problems during renovation and repair
by making good indoor air quality one of the criteria during
project planning. Contract language and negotiations with
service providers (contractors) can help ensure that proper
materials and procedures are used, such as performing work
during unoccupied periods in the school.
Operations and Maintenance
Effective maintenance and operations procedures are fundamentally
important to sustaining the performance of all building
systems. Student health and productivity can suffer when
building systems fail to operate as designed.
Portable (Relocatable) Classrooms
Portable -- or "relocatable" -- classrooms have
been a feature of many school districts for years. In reality,
portable classrooms are seldom moved and become permanent
fixtures of the school. The effects of poor indoor air quality
in portable classrooms are no different from those in permanent