Classroom air quality – are students being let down?

By: Dr Chris Iddon – Environment Design Manager – SE Controls

We’ve all sat in lecture theatres; classrooms or meeting rooms and begun to feel drowsy. Yet in almost every case, this effect has nothing to do with the subject matter being taught or discussed but is a direct consequence of the gradual build up of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the room from exhaled air.

classroom air quality

Poor air quality reduces performance

Today there is strong evidence that demonstrates clear links between improved test performance in pupils in better-ventilated classrooms, with more recent work showing that internal carbon dioxide concentrations are a major causative agent.

School classrooms are particularly prone to poor IAQ due to the high occupant density, which is around four times higher than in a typical office building. They, therefore, require much larger volumes of fresh air in comparison to offices, to maintain adequate indoor air quality.

Monitoring and managing classroom air quality

In an initiative to establish a clearer picture of the ‘real’ situation regarding classroom air quality, SE Controls concluded a pilot study of several schools in early 2013 using the company’s compact NVLogiQ CO2 and temperature monitor and data logger.

In addition to using NVLogiQ’s integral CO2 sensor and data-logging function, each unit also provided ‘traffic light’ warnings to teachers prompting them to manually open windows to improve ventilation when required.

Building an ideal learning environment

In order to ensure that poor air quality and high CO2 concentrations do not impair the learning performance, the first step is to understand the scale of the problem. This is where you can play a part by becoming involved in SE Controls’ CO2 school monitoring initiative.

For further information, please call us at SE Controls on +27(0)31 4661857.

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