Schools need ventilation for better health and student learning, not air-conditioning

Australian classrooms are registering up to four times the recommended amount of carbon dioxide, a UNSW Built Environment study has found.

Carbon dioxide levels of up to 4000ppm were recorded in a classroom, four times the recommended 1000ppm threshold for students.

“Under these conditions, both the teacher and the students are sleepy and tired and their learning capacity is reduced tremendously,” Scientia Professor Mat Santamouris, the Anita Lawrence Chair in High Performance Architecture said.

The study found there are great learning and health benefits from installing advanced and hybrid ventilation systems to remove the pollutants from Australian classrooms.

The system is a standard used in many schools in Europe.

“There are high level of pollutants in classrooms due to the number of people inside classrooms, who breathe out carbon dioxide and bring in biological contaminants,” he said.

Solvents from white board markers and particulates such as dust also contribute to classroom pollution.

“Schools are not always clean, they have a lot of dust. Worse, students enter with their dirty shoes and they step over everything that results in high indoor concentration of dust. The other problem is biological contamination and if you don’t have proper ventilation, the microbes stay in the environment. So once one child is sick, everyone is sick.“

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