IAQ Design Tools for Schools
The Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool is a free software tool to help school systems more effectively manage all of their environmental issues. HealthySEAT is designed to be customized by school systems to conduct and manage self-assessments of their school facilities for a wide range of environmental, health, and safety issues.
In the next few years, school districts will spend tens of billions of dollars constructing new school facilities, and enlarging and renovating existing schools. The information available here is presented as a tool to help school districts and facility planners design the next generation of learning environments so that the school facility will help — rather than hinder — schools in achieving their core mission of educating children.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a critically important aspect of creating and maintaining school facilities. IAQ Design Tools for Schools provides both detailed guidance as well as links to other information resources to help design new schools as well as repair, renovate and maintain existing facilities. Though its primary focus is on indoor air quality, it is also intended to encourage school districts to embrace the concept of designing High Performance Schools, an integrated, "whole building" approach to addressing a myriad of important — and sometimes competing — priorities, such as energy efficiency, indoor air quality, day-lighting, materials efficiency, and safety, and doing so in the context of tight budgets and limited staff.
Preliminary Design Phases
Building a school with indoor air quality that supports the school in its primary mission of educating children requires attention to indoor air quality issues from the very beginning of the process. Learn more
Controlling Pollutants and Sources
To protect indoor environmental quality, the designer must understand indoor air quality problems and seek to eliminate potential sources of contamination that originate from outdoors as well as indoors. Learn more
Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) Systems
The main purposes of an HVAC system are to maintain good indoor air quality and provide thermal comfort, two key requirements for high performance schools. HVAC systems are among the largest energy consumers in schools. Learn more
Poor job-site construction practices can frustrate even the best design by allowing moisture and other contaminants to become potential long term problems. Preventive job-site practices will reduce the potential for residual problems with indoor air quality in the completed building and reduce undue health risks for workers. Learn more
If building materials, equipment, and systems aren’t installed properly or aren’t operating as intended, the health, productivity, and other benefits of high performance design will not be achieved. Building commissioning is a quality assurance program that is intended to show that the building is constructed and performs as designed. Learn more
Renovation and Repair of Existing Schools
You can minimize problems during renovation and repair by making good indoor air quality one of the criteria during project planning. Contract language and negotiations with service providers (contractors) can help ensure that proper materials and procedures are used, such as performing work during unoccupied periods in the school. Learn more
Operations and Maintenance
Effective maintenance and operations procedures are fundamentally important to sustaining the performance of all building systems. Student health and productivity can suffer when building systems fail to operate as designed. Learn more
Portable (Relocatable) Classrooms
Portable, or "relocatable" classrooms have been a feature of many school districts for years. In reality, portable classrooms are seldom moved and become permanent fixtures of the school. The effects of poor indoor air quality in portable classrooms are no different from those in permanent classrooms. Learn more
Quick Links to National and State School Design Initiatives
- National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF): NCEF is a program managed by the National Institute of Building Sciences. www.ncef.org/
- Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS): CHPS has developed a best practices manual to help schools, districts and practitioners to achieve high performance design, construction and operation. www.chps.net/dev/Drupal/node
- Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG): The goal of 'Whole Building' Design is to create a successful high-performance building by applying an integrated design and team approach to the project during the planning and programming phases. www.wbdg.org/index.php
- School Indoor Air Quality Best Practices Manual (PDF) (135 pp., 2.5 M, about PDF), November 2003, Washington State Department of Health, Office of Environmental Quality, Indoor Air Quality Program, 135 pages. www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/ts/IAQ/schooliaqbmp.pdf