The thermal comfort of school occupants is affected both by conditions within the building and by the occupants themselves. Building conditions include temperature, humidity and air movement within the building. The ages, sex, level of activity and physical condition of the occupants affects their thermal comfort, as does the type and amount of clothing they are wearing. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) Standard 55, Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, recommends temperature and humidity ranges that are comfortable for most adults wearing light clothing and engaged in non-strenuous activities. The recommended temperature range is 68 to 70 degrees F in the winter and 73 to 79 degrees F in the summer. The ASHRAE- recommended relative humidity range is 40 to 60% in the summer and 30 to 50% in the winter. Relative humidity over 60% can promote mold and mildew growth, while relative humidity below 30% can accelerate the release of fungal spores into the air. Low humidity has been linked to eye and upper respiratory irritation. Uniformity of temperature is important to comfort. Temperature differences can be reduced by good ventilation practices, insulation of floor and wall surfaces and controlling heat gain or loss through windows.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Question: What thermal comfort issues have you found in your building?
Answer: The biggest complaint in our building is the lack of air conditioning. This makes it extremely difficult to teach during the beginning and end f the school year.
During our first walkthrough, we heard a lot of complaints about room temperature. Here’s what we found: artwork covering thermostats, heat sources such as refrigerators and computers placed too close to thermostats and teachers placing ice cubes or wet towels on thermostats to increase the heat in their rooms. We also found that the thermostats had never been calibrated since they were put in ten years ago.
CT DPH IEQ website section on Temperature:
Berkely Lab IAQ Scientific Findings Resource Bank
Green Education Council:
EPA Indoor Air Quality and Student Performance: