ing of doors and windows and by uncontrolled leakage points through a building’s envelope. A variety of mechanical systems is available, including hybrid systems that use both natural and mechanical ventilation.

HVAC systems must be properly designed and sized to handle the sensible and latent heat loads of outside and recirculated air. If not properly designed, operated, and maintained, HVAC systems can themselves generate pollutants and excess moisture, thereby affecting the health of occupants. The principal standards and guidelines for HVAC system design and operation in the United States are (1) American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 62.1-2004, “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality”; (2) American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASHRAE Standard 55-2004, “Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy”; (3) the Department of Energy’s EnergySmart Schools guidelines; and (4) individual state codes, some of which are based on or refer to the International Building Code or other codes. Because industry standards for ventilation and energy efficiency have been developed separately, they have, in some cases, had the net effect of increasing relative indoor humidity.

As shown in Figure 4.1, the complex interactions between indoor and outdoor pollutants, moisture/humidity, HVAC systems, operations and maintenance practices can affect occupants’ health, comfort, and productivity. These topics are discussed in greater detail in the rest of the chapter.


Pollutants are generated by many sources both internal and external to a school. External sources include combustion products; biological material; and particulate matter and ozone entering through air intakes and the building envelope. People themselves can carry pollen and allergen sources, such as dust mites and pet dander, into a school on their shoes, skin, and clothes. Internal sources include but are not limited to combustion products; building materials and equipment; educational materials; cleaning products; biological agents; and human activity. In some cases, outdoor pollutants react with indoor chemicals to produce new irritants.

Outdoor Sources of Pollutants

Outdoor air pollutants can affect the health of children and adults in two ways. First, students, teachers, administrators, and support staff are exposed to outdoor pollutants before they enter a building, which can lead to increased respiratory symptoms (Schwartz, 2004). Second, outdoor

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