Comfort Conditions Audits
A group of 16 “problem” schools were identified from the surveys from which to select the schools to be audited. Problem schools were defined as schools for which the survey respondents indicated either “many” or “chronic” complaints last year about the indoor air temperature and indoor air quality in regular classrooms. While it was intended that all audited schools be selected from this problem school list, there was considerable difficulty in obtaining cooperation from these schools and in the end, only two of the audited schools came from the survey.
Conditions audits were finally conducted in a total of eight schools in Florida, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington. The audits typically included zone pressure mapping, ventilation tests, sampling and monitoring of indoor temperatures, CO 2 levels and RH, and in some cases a blower door building air tightness test.
Significant ventilation problems were present in each of the eight audited schools. These problems appear to be occurring due to a combination of factors including lack of maintenance, lack of knowledge of the systems and in some cases poor system design. It also appears that since ventilation air problems are not easily identified unless comfort or other conditions issues arise, they typically go unresolved. In cases where a problem has been detected, a solution may be provided that does not resolve the root problem(s). Bathroom and other exhaust fan problems were also a common find in the audits where the fans were either non functional or inadequate.
The audits also found high RH levels (60-70%) and several instances of low classroom temperatures (70 oF and lower) in the hot-humid climate schools. Portable dehumidifier “band aids” were commonly in use in these classrooms to help control RH levels.