STUDY: Air Quality in Passive House Schools Supports Learning
According to the EPA, not only does IAQ impact the health and academic performance of our kids, IAQ is even more impactful on kids than adults because kids’ bodies and brains are still developing.
Yet, it’s common for indoor CO2 levels to regularly exceed ASHRAE’s classroom guideline of about 1,000 parts per million (ppm). The Texas Elementary School Indoor Air Study (TESIAS) found that of 120 randomly selected classrooms, 66% exceeded 1,000 ppm as the average CO2 level, with regular spikes over 2,000 ppm.
This bad air in classrooms is bad news for learning.
A 2015 study by the Harvard School of Public Health (Allen, J.G. et al.) found that increasing interior CO2 concentration from 550 ppm to 945 ppm reduced cognitive function of study subjects by 15%. A concentration of 1,400 ppm reduced cognitive function by a whopping 50%. So, CO2 levels that are commonplace in US classrooms dramatically interfere with our ability to think.
It should come as no surprise, then, that school districts are keen on creating better IAQ in their schools. The question is how to do so, reliably and year-round.
An IAQ monitoring study of various schools in the United Kingdom may provide an answer. Conducted by Architype (the UK architecture firm) in partnership with Oxford Brookes University, the research project provides evidence of the power of Passive House design and construction to deliver healthy indoor air conducive to learning.