Many California classrooms don’t have sufficient ventilation.
Roughly 85 percent of recently installed HVAC systems in K-12 classrooms investigated in California did not provide adequate ventilation, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
For the study, published in the journal Building and Environment, researchers visited 104 classrooms in 11 schools throughout California that had been retrofitted with new heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, units in the past three years. They evaluated the HVAC systems, carbon dioxide concentrations, and indoor temperature and humidity through field inspections, monitoring, and a teacher survey.
“Previous research has shown that under-ventilation of classrooms is common and negatively impacts student health and learning,” explained lead author Rengie Chan, a research scientist with Berkeley Lab. “What isn’t known, however, is why this problem is so widespread and persistent.”
Ventilation helps remove indoor air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, including formaldehyde, which can off-gas from building materials, finishes and furniture. There is also increasing evidence that CO2 exhaled by building occupants is an indoor pollutant that can affect cognitive performance. This is particularly important in classrooms, where lots of people gather in a small space.
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