Optimizing Indoor Air Quality in School Settings

Optimal learning environments not only enhance education, but they also support the health and well-being of students and staff. As students and staff in some communities are cautiously returning to campuses, O’Connell Robertson is proud to design spaces that are aesthetically pleasing, while also ensuring that the indoor air quality allows students to occupy these spaces safely. Our expertise in designing educational spaces is uniquely complemented by our 70 years of experience in designing healthcare facilities. Our expertise in healthcare design best practices allows us to bring our specific knowledge around MEP engineering for improved indoor air quality to address the needs of students and staff as they return to classes this fall.

A recent case study in engineering indoor air quality to improve occupants’ health lies in the Texas Center for Infectious Disease (TCID). O’Connell Robertson’s complex MEP engineering services provided TCID with one of the most multifaceted HVAC systems in the region. O’Connell Robertson can apply many of the same principles utilized at TCID to improve indoor air quality to education projects. These include:

  1. DILUTE: Introduce more outdoor air into the building to dilute any contaminants within the spaces and HVAC systems.
  2. EXHAUST: Exhaust contaminated air out of areas that have a high concentration, such as nurse’s offices.
  3. CONTAIN: Keep the areas of the building that have high populations or high-risk of contamination separate from other areas of the building by keeping them under negative pressure.
  4. CLEAN: Improve HVAC filtration within school buildings (recommend MERV 13 rated filters) to help filter out as many of the contaminants as possible. This will supplement any other cleaning procedures within the facility such as surface cleaning/disinfecting.

As schools and healthcare facilities undergo similar challenges to keep their occupants healthy, MEP engineering strategies around improving indoor air quality will continue to be an important consideration. Check out our tips on the Top 5 Post-COVID HVAC Hacks for Schools and UV Elements and Bipolar Ionization for more information around engineering best practices as the school year begins.