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Andy Williams, Technical Consultant at Jaga, explains why schools should invest in efficient ventilation systems to get the best out of their students

Posted by Julian Owen | December 03, 2017 | Facilities management

Young people spend a huge portion of their time in school, so facilities managers need to make sure the learning environment is a comfortable and productive one.

This doesn’t just mean maintaining an appropriate classroom temperature – indoor air quality(IAQ) should also be considered.

Poor IAQ is often caused by little or no ventilation and a consequent build-up of CO2 in the classroom. The result of poor IAQ on pupils can be wide-ranging, impacting concentration, productivity and attention span; three factors which are vital when it comes to sitting for exams. At its worst, poor IAQ can cause health problems for both students and staff, including coughs, eye irritation, headache, allergic reactions and, in rarer cases, life-threatening conditions such as Legionnaire’s disease, or carbon monoxide poisoning.

A 2008 study by the University of Reading showed a link between the classroom environment and pupils’ cognitive performance. The research found that air quality conditions in 35% of classroom hours were inadequate, with pupils and teachers exposed to CO2 concentrations of up to 3.5 times the government recommended average levels of 1500 ppm.  At the eight schools tested, memory and reaction times of the children were investigated, and it was found that both were worse off when exposed to the higher levels of CO2 in the classrooms.

Manual ventilation methods such as opening a window may marginally improve air quality, but it can be difficult to measure and maintain CO2 levels as well as creating drafts and potential noise distractions

Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV) solutions, such as Jaga’s Oxygen ventilation system, can regulate the intake of air into a classroom based on the changing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, extracting stale air at the same rate.

The Oxygen system brings in outside air before filtering it, reducing lethargy and increasing concentration. Then, the unit’s four mechanisms combine to create a controlled cycle of clean air, ensuring consistent circulation throughout the space, no matter what changes occur in the classroom throughout the day. This ensures a fully balanced system which creates an optimal environment for staff and students.

DCV systems only ventilate a room when needed. This means that when a building is unoccupied – in the school holidays for example – consistent and ongoing ventilation management isn’t required. On the flip side, on days or times during a school day where levels of CO2 are high due to mass occupancy of an exam hall, for example, the system can kick in and ensure that the IAQ remains at the optimum level for the building’s inhabitants.

In addition to controlling CO2 levels, a well-designed ventilation system can also help control warm, summertime temperatures by utilising secure night-time purge ventilation. This lowers the temperature within the space when external temperatures are lower. As they are performing more efficiently they will also help reduce running costs – a key concern for school managers.

Ultimately, when using DCV in conjunction with a highly efficient mechanical ventilation system with balance airflow, the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff can be maintained at an optimal level to positively impact productivity –helping to produce the best exam results from pupils. 

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