The healthiness of school buildings helps learning

The pandemic has made it necessary among many things rethink schoolsso as to guarantee safe, efficient and healthy environments, capable of helping concentration and learning. The challenge is to involve all actors and integrate the latest innovations into school buildings technological management and control solutions

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The spread of the pandemic linked to Covid-19 and the consequent health emergency have made clear the need for one greater attention to the healthiness of buildings to protect the health of its occupants, not only that of homes and offices, but also of school facilitieswhich are among the environments most subject to the impact of the pandemic and, unfortunately, have not always proved to be up to par in terms of health safety standards.

The progressive return to normality and the repopulation of our schools has required an evolution in the approach to health, safety and protection to ensure compliance with the new guidelines and standards.

Our schools, therefore, are facing new challenges, which require the commitment of all parties involved to
the creation of healthier environments. Greater safety and attention to environmental health problems, in fact, create the conditions for a protected environment And stimulating which favors thelearning by students.

It is necessary to undertake a path that involves all the buildings in the area, through the implementation of technological management and control solutions that meet the necessary requirements to guarantee safe and protected environments: a need also confirmed by the investment plans present in PNRRof which schools represent a part
important of one of the six chapters, namely “Education and Research”.

Funds from the NRP for the health and safety of schools

Of the € 31.9 billion allocated to this item, 3.9 billion have been allocated for the safety and redevelopment of schoolswith the aim of making them more innovative, safe, sustainable and inclusive.

According to a Ance report on the state of Italian school buildingsthere are over 40,000 active buildings in the area.

Of these:

  • more than half were built before 1974
  • 43% are located in areas of high seismic risk
  • 54% do not have a test certificate
  • 42.5% did not have any measures to reduce energy consumption

Health school buildings for good learning

In addition to the aspects related to safety and the adaptation of structures, there is the need to create modern and comfortable environments that favor learning and socialization processes. . Indoor air quality, lighting, energy efficiency And modernization of the structures are fundamental aspects that the members of the school boards, the facility managers and the engineering managers must take into consideration in order to guarantee high standards of quality and safety of this type of structures.

Improve air quality

The issue of the healthiness of the air in school buildings is of fundamental importance: in the environments, where children go to study every day, it is not possible to neglect any aspect related to their safety. In a post-pandemic historical period, the “indoor air pollution“Is therefore in first place among the aspects of public health not to be underestimated.

Improve school air quality

IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) is of great importance for living comfortably indoors. What does a lack of ventilation mean in this type of space? As specified by the Ministry of Health: In closed or semi-closed environments, the oxygen present in the (internal) air is gradually consumed, while with human respiration and transpiration some components such as: water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2) and various organic substances are released into the air.

In the absence of adequate ventilation, the indoor air quality tends to alter, as a consequence of the presence and accumulation of polluting substances: substances with characteristics such as to modify the normal composition or physical state of the air and alter its healthiness (stale air).

The lack of a correct air exchange leads to the phenomenon defined “sick building syndrome”Which leads to the onset of health problems. The Ministry of Health explains that “From numerous investigations in buildings where health or comfort problems were reported, it emerged that the prevalent problem (in almost half of the cases) was inadequate ventilation”.

The simultaneous presence of many students in a closed environment makes it necessary to pay particular attention to air exchange. In school environments there can be “hidden” health pitfalls: toxic substances emitted by the paints used and furnishings, allergens and molds. For this reason it is not possible to overlook the indoor air quality monitoring: VOCs present could be health problems for students.

Proper ventilation in schools requires a careful balance between the introduction of oxygenated air from the outside and the removal of stale air. L’use of indoor air quality sensorscombined with analytical solutions as part of a larger building management system (BMS), is an effective way of monitoring the presence of a range of pollutants.

Furthermore, good air quality has been shown to affect not only students’ good health, but also their ability to concentrate and learn. Researchers from QAES the coordinated European project Italy-Switzerland coordinated by IDM Sudtirol-Alto Adige, have addressed the problem of the healthiness of the air in schools and the effects on children’s health and the level of learning. According to the researchers, improved indoor air quality positively impacts students’ psychological well-being and maintenance of concentration.

UNI / PdR 122: 2022: tools for air monitoring in schools

The results of the work of UNI (Italian Standardization Body) also reached the same conclusion, namely that there is a close link between the increase in carbon dioxide and the decrease in the concentration of students’ learning levels. An enclosed environment must be comfortable, healthy and guarantee the safety necessary for the smooth running of the lessons.

Improve school air quality
The Authority has therefore developed – in collaboration with IDM – the reference practice for monitoring air quality in school buildings. Let’s talk about the UNI / PdR 122: 2022“Monitoring of air quality in school buildings – Tools, strategies for sampling and interpretation of measures”, the document dedicated to the managers and managers of schools who contribute to the monitoring process and to all the technicians involved in ensuring quality air in school environments.

The tool developed by UNI has two objectives – the first is to establish a simplified operating procedure for indoor air monitoring that can be applied autonomously by school building managers without the support of a test laboratory. The second objective linked to the reference practice is linked to the definition of the procedures that the building manager can follow if he entrusts the monitoring to a test laboratory.

The use of technologies for air exchange

In addition to managing the air exchange rate, the use of filtration and cleaning technologies is an important defense against airborne pathogens.

Air quality is not just about cleanliness itself, but also associated factors such as temperature and relative humidity, as both have an impact on occupant comfort. In most cases, the optimal range for humidity is around 40-60%, as this is where the communication of viral pathogens is at its lowest; it is more difficult to control the spread of potential infections in excessively dry conditions. On the other hand, excessive humidity promotes the growth of mites and fungi, which are known to exacerbate respiratory conditions and allergies.

The use of air exchange technologies in schools

There temperature management indoor air is a more complex balancing process. Studies show that the survival rate of viruses decreases as temperatures rise. However, higher temperatures have an impact on occupant comfort and humidity levels. The operation of a BMS in the most effective and efficient way is specific to each building, depending on its location, finding a balance between the comfort and well-being of its occupants and energy consumption.

Honeywell offers a wide range of air quality control solutions that ensure the healthiness of school buildings in line with the needs of each facility. For more information visit the section dedicated to education sector.

Energy efficiency

A modern BEMS not only helps to maintain the comfort of the occupants, but also to optimize consumption and, consequently, reduce costs. For example, the sensors are able to monitor the light level to provide optimal illumination, activating it only when and where it is needed. Additionally, areas such as corridors, classrooms and conference rooms can be managed more efficiently, especially if transit and usage are not constant. Air conditioning systems, lighting and audiovisual equipment in unused parts of a building can be turned off automatically or switched to an energy saving mode.

These solutions They not only reduce energy consumption, but also help improve the occupant experience by making more appropriate facilities available, in an economical and efficient way.

The healthiness of school buildings helps learning