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December 28

The Importance of Thermal Comfort In Schools

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Have you ever thought about how thermal comfort can affect learning within schools? 

It may not seem like it, but in addition to directly affecting the health and well-being of students and staff, thermal comfort can significantly impact people’s ability to concentrate and learn.

In this article, we will explore the importance of thermal comfort in schools and discuss some measures that can be taken to ensure that school environments are pleasant and healthy for all.

After all, practical teaching and learning depend much more on the environment in which it takes place than we usually imagine.

What is thermal comfort?

Thermal comfort in architecture refers to the conditions within a built environment that provide occupants with physical comfort. It is achieved when a space’s temperature, humidity, and airflow are balanced to meet the occupants’ needs.

Thermal comfort is an essential consideration in the design of buildings, as it can affect the health, well-being, and productivity of the people who use the space.

Some factors that can influence thermal comfort in schools include the size and layout of the area, the materials used in its construction, and the level of insulation and ventilation.

By considering these factors, architects and designers can create buildings that provide a comfortable and pleasant environment for those who use them.

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Several factors can affect thermal comfort in schools (and other types of buildings, of course), including:

  1. Air temperature: This refers to the temperature of the air in a space. If the air temperature is too high or too low, it can cause discomfort.
  2. Humidity: The air’s moisture can also impact thermal comfort in schools. If the air is too humid, it can make a space feel stuffy and uncomfortable. If it is too dry, it can cause dry skin and respiratory issues.
  3. Radiant temperature: The temperature of surfaces and objects within a space can also affect thermal comfort. If the area is exposed to a lot of direct sunlight, the radiant temperature can become much higher than the air temperature, leading to discomfort.
  4. Air movement: Air movement within a space can also affect thermal comfort in schools. If the air is moving too slowly, it can lead to stagnant conditions, while too much air movement can cause drafts and make a space feel colder than it is.
  5. Clothing: People’s clothing types and thickness can also impact their thermal comfort in schools. Layers of clothing can help to regulate body temperature, while heavy or bulky clothing can make a space feel too warm.
  6. Metabolic rate: The metabolic rate, or the rate at which the body produces heat, can also impact thermal comfort. People with higher metabolic rates tend to feel warmer than those with lower metabolic rates, even when the temperature in space is the same.

But after all, what is the importance of thermal comfort in schools?

The fact that thermal comfort in schools can directly affect the health and well-being of students and employees requires attention during the design process that is not usually addressed with due importance. 

When the school environment is too hot or too cold, this can interfere with the ability to concentrate and learn by preventing attention from being kept for a long time on what is being taught since the body begins to react in response to the discomfort that the organism detects.

This reaction can be involuntary, like sweating, shivering, or restlessness, and more voluntary, like rubbing your hands to warm up or fanning yourself for heat. Regardless of the reaction, we know that our concentration automatically deviates when we feel upset in this way.

In addition, thermal comfort in schools is essential to avoid climate-related health problems such as dehydration, colds, and flu.

What are the benefits of well-planned thermal comfort in schools?

  1. Improved health and well-being: As we mentioned, thermal comfort is essential for people’s health and well-being. When the environment is too hot or too cold, it can negatively affect people’s health and well-being, including increasing the risk of respiratory illness and dehydration. Investing in thermal comfort can help ensure that people are in a pleasant and comfortable environment, which can contribute to their health and well-being.
  1. Increased productivity:  It is proven that when the environment is uncomfortable, it interferes with people’s ability to concentrate and learn, reducing their productivity.

When we talk about schools, we already understand that thermal discomfort impairs learning and devalues ‚Äč‚Äčinvestment in student education. But we can even mention work environments, considering that it can be said that if a domain is found unsuitable for work, it would be as if out of 10 employees, you had 6.5 just working. That’s not good for business.

Investing in thermal comfort in schools can help ensure people are in a pleasant and comfortable environment, increasing their productivity.

  1. Cost reduction: Investing in thermal comfort can also help reduce long-term operating costs. For example, efficient and up-to-date heating and air conditioning systems or shading and solar orientation techniques can help reduce energy consumption and operating costs.
  1. Improving sustainability: Thermal comfort can also be an essential factor in the long-term sustainability of a building. For example, using renewable energy sources and energy-efficient design techniques can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the use of natural resources. We’ll talk a little more about that shortly.

And what are the benefits to the environment when we invest in thermal comfort in schools?

In addition to all the benefits to human health and how it allows the student to entirely focus on what they are learning without physical discomfort, investing in the quality of life of the occupants of any architecture is also good for the planet. Take a good look:

  1. We reduce the emission of greenhouse gases: Thermal comfort, when not designed and thought out correctly, ends up being provided mainly through heating and air conditioning systems. These devices can consume a lot of energy and emit large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Alternative and even more efficient heating and air conditioning systems use renewable energy sources, which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to long-term sustainability. I always prefer appliances with the energy efficiency seal.

  1. Use of natural resources: Thermal comfort in schools can also affect using natural resources such as water and fossil fuels. For example, heating systems that use fossil fuels such as natural gas or oil can consume large amounts of these resources. This reinforces the importance of conscious choice and purchase. We cannot change the whole world as individuals, but if we all make more correct choices in our daily lives, general change will happen by itself.
  1. Impact on flora and fauna: Thermal comfort can also affect flora and fauna of a region. For example, heating and air conditioning overuse can contribute to climate change and affect wildlife. This imbalance is not only perceived by animals but has already been a cause for concern and an increase in natural disasters that significantly affect the population.

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How can we guarantee a pleasant thermal sensation in schools? And is it possible to optimize this in any building?

To ensure thermal comfort in schools, it is essential to consider factors such as the size of the classroom, the number of people present, sun exposure, and the energy efficiency of the building. Some measures can be taken to improve this feeling, both in buildings in the design phase and in existing ones, and that is why we are going to separate them here in this article into two categories:

Category 1 = Active Thermal Comfort Measures:

Those that are made in the design before the construction of a school or teaching center and which have a more significant interference in the results:

  • Implementation study, prioritizing the faces of more sudden thermal sensation – north, very hot in summer; and south, icy in winter – for environments of lesser permanence, such as patio, leisure, and passage spaces. Meanwhile, the higher thermal balance faces are ideal for extended-stay environments such as classrooms and libraries.
  • These same studies will help guide the windows, which can be arranged in greater numbers in environments with less insolation, and in smaller ones in environments with higher incidence, avoiding excess or lack of heat and preventing glare, which is also very harmful to comfort. ;
  • Care when choosing the materials used in a school project is very important, from the type of wall and roof to the final coatings. Each climate and each location receives a different thermal load and conditions, and all the materials chosen – mainly regarding the main structure of walls, floors, and roofs – must be selected as a result of data and analyzes that indicate what works best for the project in question. specific;
  • While corridors and patios work even if they are not entirely closed, classrooms must have the flexibility to be sealed for protection from rain and weather but allow cross ventilation – in addition to comfort, for health reasons;
  • It is always possible to use architecture to our advantage. For example, in a patio exposed directly to the north face, it is possible to create an extension of the upper slab, perhaps, or awnings that allow students and staff to have shady places to shelter on the warmer days;
  • The option of using sunshades – fixed or mobile depending on the conditions – that help control the solar incidence on the most exposed faces (and if you are designing in Brazil, remember, no sunshades on the south face!);
  • Another factor that seems simple but helps a lot in controlling the temperature is to prioritize paintings and coatings in light colors, which reflect more light and absorb less heat;
  • Through studies of the best type of equipment for each region, it is also interesting to plan a system that includes mechanical ventilation, either with fans, air conditioners, or air conditioners, which can serve as support at specific times of the year but should not be the only solution for thermal discomfort, whether hot or cold.

The use of air conditioning, for example, requires a closed environment for its optimization, which can be very harmful to the spread of diseases in an environment with many people.

Category 2 = Passive Thermal Comfort Measures:

When an educational institution is located in an existing building, the thermal comfort in schools measures that can be taken become more restricted, but still essential to carry out:

  • Maintain as much as possible light-colored coatings and paints;
  • Use curtains and blinds to control sunlight and increase thermal comfort in schools;
  • In the case of an existing structure, it is unlikely that the walls, floors, and roofs will be changed, but there are several coatings and insulation that can help with thermal comfort in schools in a more agile and economical way;
  • It should also be remembered that, when opting for mechanical heating or cooling, it is essential not to depend entirely on this equipment since they consume a lot of energy, generate costs, and can lead to the spread of diseases in very closed environments.

And how can UGREEN help the thermal comfort of your project?

Remember when we commented on the strategies that can be used both in an existing building and in constructing a new one to guarantee the optimization of resources and complete environmental comfort?

That’s where UGREEN comes in, through:

  • Specific bioclimatic studies of the project and its insertion region;
  • Analysis of implantation, solar incidence, and winds;
  • Simulations and computerized analysis in state-of-the-art programs;
  • A detailed description of the best design strategies and techniques to maximize your project’s energy efficiency and comfort.

Everything is always focused on each specific scenario and aims for the best result in an individualized and holistic way. 

If you are interested in this type of service, aimed at bioclimatic and energy efficiency and maximizing your project’s environmental comfort (thermal, acoustic, and lighting), click here and talk to us about your idea!

Hope you enjoyed this article about thermal comfort in schools!

If you need a project in Portuguese language country, talk to us by clicking here.

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