HVAC Systems in Schools, Colleges, and Universities

Schools and other educational buildings often pose a challenge when considering the climate control and ventilation systems.  Many factors contribute to this including the size and layout of the buildings, the number of people in confined spaces and ageing buildings with poor insulation values.

Keeping buildings warm in the winter, cool in the summer and well-ventilated at all times is an ongoing challenge for the estates and maintenance teams, often requiring specialist input from HVAC contractors and consultants.  A robust maintenance plan is essential for any school, to ensure optimum performance, but more importantly safety and compliance.


Ventilation In Schools/Universities


While the covid pandemic has increased awareness around the importance of ventilation in schools, it has always been an important consideration in any educational building.  Adequate ventilation will reduce the likelihood of the spread of germs, reducing staff and children's absence and maximising learning opportunities.

Another key argument for ventilation in schools is that it is a massive contribution to effective concentration and performance in a classroom environment.  Scientific research has proved a significant increase in student productivity and concentration in a well-ventilated environment, as opposed to a stuffy, stale classroom.

Ventilation systems can be either natural (opening windows and vents) or mechanical – typically natural ventilation is limited – both in terms of its effectiveness and its control.  Relying on opening windows may be sufficient on a mild day, but is not a sensible ventilation solution in cold or hot weather when the windows are likely to remain closed.

Mechanical ventilation systems in schools and colleges need to be designed properly to ensure they are fit for purpose.  While the system may have been in place for many years, you can still retrospectively validate this with a professional ventilation validation service, ensuring that the supply of fresh air to each area is adequate.

It is important for the teaching staff, in particular, to be aware of which areas in the school don’t have effective or adequate ventilation so that they can avoid large gatherings of students in these spaces for any protracted time.  Staff and students should be increasingly aware of the need for effective ventilation both for their health as well as their optimum performance.



Air Conditioning In Schools/Universities


Many schools and universities now have air conditioning installed in them, providing an enhanced environment in which students can learn.   Most modern air conditioning units provide both cooling and heating functions, so these units can even replace the traditional radiator heating systems in newer buildings.

Installing air conditioning in schools should always be carried out by an approved Fgas contractor, to ensure compliance and safe handling of the f-gas refrigerants.  Air conditioning can be installed in almost any type of education building including classrooms, staff rooms, sports facilities, school halls, temporary buildings and much more.  The type of air conditioning system will depend on the specific application and the area that needs cooling.  We have more information on the different types of air conditioning systems in our article.

Air conditioning systems in schools must be maintained by law, as per f-gas regulations.  Systems typically require an annual check as a minimum, to ensure there are no leaks of refrigerant, which could be harmful to the environment.  These checks must be carried out by a trained, f-gas qualified engineer.  Read more about the maintenance of your air conditioning systems.

Some older schools have ageing air conditioning systems with refrigerant that is more damaging to the environment.  These systems should be carefully monitored and ideally replaced with a modern equivalent – not only will this be better for the environment, but also provide a much better heating/cooling performance and cost less to run.


Air Quality Improvement in Education


Air quality in schools is the argument for regular maintenance.

Air handling and ventilation systems in schools require regular maintenance to ensure the best quality of air is being distributed throughout the building.  This includes operational checks on the air handling units, ductwork cleaning and regular filter changes.

If ventilation systems are not maintained then the systems will get clogged up and put under strain, reducing their effectiveness and increasing the risk of breakdown and failure.  Regular maintenance will ensure that the units are working to their optimum capacity and supplying the best, filtered air to the areas that they serve.



Posted in

Rob Tuffin