There is sufficient evidence to establish an association between moisture problems in buildings (floods, visible dampness, leaks, mold growth in spaces or in heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning [HVAC] systems) and adverse health outcomes, particularly asthma and respiratory symptoms, among children and adults.
Excessive moisture in a building can lead to structural damage, deterioration of the performance of building systems and components, and cosmetic damage, all of which can result in increased maintenance and repair costs.
Guidelines for green schools typically do not adequately address the design detailing, construction, and long-term maintenance of building envelopes to ensure that allergen sources are controlled, moisture is controlled, and a building is kept dry over the long term.
Well-designed, constructed, and maintained building envelopes are critical to the control and prevention of the excessive moisture and molds that have been associated with adverse health effects in children and adults. Designing for effective moisture management will likely have benefits for the building, including lower life-cycle costs. Excellent resources for proper moisture control design include The Moisture Control Handbook, Principles and Practices for Residential and Small Commercial Buildings by Joseph Lstiburek and John Carmody (1994) and The Building Foundation Design Handbook (ORNL, 1988).
Recommendation 1: The control of excessive moisture, dampness, and molds to protect the health of children and adults in schools and to protect the structural integrity of a building should be a key objective for green schools. MASSTECH should develop guidelines that specifically address moisture control as it relates to the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of a school building’s envelope (foundations, walls, windows, and roofs) and ventilation systems, and related items such as siting, landscaping, and plumbing systems.