K-12 Schools

ventilation for healthy schools

Proper ventilation is crucial for students’ and professionals’ health and the school environment. Inadequate ventilation can have long-lasting effects on everyone and the maintenance of the building. Therefore, it is crucial to measure and control the ventilation rates to create a healthier environment and reliable IAQ. Moreover, it is crucial to establish and sustain a healthy learning environment in schools.

Promote better learning

Improve student health

Reduce contaminants & mold growth

The EPA estimates that approximately 46% of U.S. public schools have environmental conditions that contribute to poor indoor air quality (IAQ).

There is an abundance of scientific research in America and elsewhere that has focused on the impacts of poor ventilation on student health and performance. It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of proper indoor air quality in schools.

Poor IAQ can exist in new, old, renovated, green, and energy-efficient schools. Poor school air quality may result in expensive repairs or remediation that could have been avoided by properly implementing ventilation measurement and control. Mold in schools, school flu, and school asthma are just a few problems that can develop because of poor school air quality. COVID-19 is helping to place a new focus on the importance of ventilation for healthy students.


Ventilation’s primary function is to dilute indoor generated pollutants and contaminants with “fresh air” less polluted outdoor air, and to transport the “bad air” outdoors. These contaminants may be Biological (bacteria, viruses, mold, allergens); Chemical volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are generated by building materials, furniture, printers and copiers, cleaning products, human clothing, perfumes, deodorants, and occupants; or Bioeffluents (odors and gases from humans). Unhealthy levels of pollutants cannot always be detected by the nose, nor can occupants perceive if the air is really “fresh”.


Improper school ventilation rates or improper control of airflows may result in Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) or may create conditions that lead to it. They may also lead to quick spread of school flu or other viruses or may contribute to upper respiratory infections, aggravate exiting symptoms or develop into school asthma. The CDC has recommendations for classroom ventilation requirements that many schools do not meet.

Sick Building Syndrome, mold, school flu, and school asthma can lead to higher absenteeism, developmental issues, or poor academic performance.  In fact, there is significant evidence that enhanced classroom ventilation improves student performance. In short: healthy schools lead to better students.


Implementing active airflow measurement and control of the HVAC and building automation systems (BAS) in schools is a critical foundation to creating healthy schools. Airflow sensors should be in outdoor air, supply air, return air, and exhaust systems.  At a minimum, an outdoor air measurement can alarm if airflow rates cannot be obtained, and well integrated sensors will adjust to maintain ventilation rates as environmental conditions change or when HVAC systems experience normal degradation.  Supply, return, and exhaust will work together to maintain proper building pressurization and, in turn, student health.

Proper indoor air quality in schools prevents conditions that can create mold growth or prevent unfiltered outdoor pollutants from entering the school. This also keeps odors from kitchens, toilets, gymnasiums, or locker rooms from transferring to other spaces in the school. Airflow sensors, proper filtration, and maintenance work in cooperation to maintain school health. There has never been a better time to focus on better ventilation for schools. Learn more about EBTRON Solutions for Schools.

Thermal comfort, temperature and humidity control, and adequate ventilation provide an environment that promotes learning. In addition, sufficient outdoor air is required to achieve acceptable indoor air quality (IAQ) to dilute the contaminants that can adversely affect the health and productivity of the student. Poor IAQ has been linked to increased asthma and other respiratory illnesses. To minimize energy costs and ensure student health and productivity, EBTRON recommends measuring outdoor air serving the school.

Additional Resources for Healthy K-12 Schools

Environmental Protection Agency

It is necessary to determine if the school meets ASHRAE Standard 62.1 ventilation requirements. For mechanical ventilation applications, permanent outdoor airflow monitoring systems should be installed to ensure compliance with the Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for School Building Upgrades.

Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for School Building Upgrades

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Classroom ventilation rates frequently fall below minimum standards, though increasing ventilation rates have been linked with improved student performance, according to studies.

The Ventilation Problem in Schools: Literature Review

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The benefits of healthy school buildings are supported by overwhelming evidence in scientific literature. These buildings have a positive impact on student health, thinking, and performance.

How School Buildings Influence Student Health, Thinking and Performance
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