Children spend a significant amount of time in school buildings and it is therefore important that school spaces are comfortable and healthy.

Schools have patterns of use that are different from most other building types. Even under normal use, spaces may be intermittently occupied throughout the day during term-time and there are long periods during the holidays when the spaces are empty. 

During summer the building may be largely unoccupied during the warmest period, which has implications in relation to summer-time cooling, that is, for much of the summer when overheating is likely, the building may not be used. In winter-time, there may be extended periods when the school is not used, for example, over the Christmas period, after which the building may need to be warmed up from ‘cold’.

Of course the school building may be used for ‘out of hours’ use, for example, in relation to community activities. Such patterns will benefit from zoning of environmental control systems to enable only those spaces used to be heated, ventilated, cooled and lit.

School spaces are characterised by high occupancy densities. This can have an impact on both ventilation design for good air quality and excessive heat gains from occupants. School classrooms may typically suffer from a build up of heat and pollution during a teaching period, after which it may be unoccupied for a while, for example, during break-time. Typically design is for constant use of spaces, where buildings and services are designed to achieve constant environmental conditions. A more ‘purge type’ approach may be more appropriate for schools, for example, opening windows during break-time. Many schools use this approach even though it has not been specifically designed. Sophisticated computer controlled natural ventilation systems often use this strategy to good effect.

What should I do?

Ensure the design team are aware of proposed uses of all spaces in and out of normal school hours.

WLGA - CLILC Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru / Welsh Assembly Government