The kind of ventilation we see in green schools, promotes wellness and supports a healthy learning environment.
Poor ventilation is often behind sick building syndrome, which is known to cause symptoms including eye, nose, and throat irritations; headaches; fatigue; difficulty breathing; itching; and dry, irritated skin.
The primary purpose of a building’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system is to provide comfort for the occupants by meeting thermal requirements and diluting contaminants. HVAC systems accomplish this through the conditioning of outside air coming into occupied spaces and the removal of irritants and pollutants.
Green school guidelines typically address HVAC systems as they relate to energy efficiency, indoor air quality (ventilation), moisture control, filter efficiencies and maintenance, and the elimination of CFC-based refrigerants.
In a comprehensive review of the literature related to indoor air quality, ventilation, and health symptoms in schools, Daisey et al. (2003) found that a significant proportion of classrooms did not meet the minimum ventilation standards. A variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and bioaerosols (primarily molds and fungi, dust mites, and animal antigens) could be found in school environments.
Reducing indoor pollutants, providing adequate quantities of outside air, and ensuring that the ventilation system is properly maintained have all been linked to reducing absenteeism, improving teacher productivity and student learning. In a 2006 study of 54 elementary schools, researchers identified a 14.4 percent improvement in standardized math test scores in classrooms with a ventilation rate that was double the norm.
Through moisture management, pollutant source control and adequate ventilation rates, green schools have cleaner air and thus a healthier environment more conducive to learning.
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