With sustainable operation and construction becoming nearly standard practice in K-12 and higher education, indoor air quality (IAQ) sometimes takes a back seat to energy efficiency. But, studies show that 50 percent of all illnesses are thought to be either caused or aggravated by poor indoor air quality. An estimated 20 percent of schools struggle with IAQ, and nearly 10 million school days are missed each year because of asthma resulting from poor IAQ.
Fortunately, new technology exists that helps address indoor air quality concerns while increasing the operating efficiency of a school. Large-diameter, low-velocity fans can be used year-round to improve student comfort and optimize the efficiency of heating and cooling systems.
Fans can lower dependence on air conditioning in the summer and recirculate heat trapped at the ceiling in the winter. Moreover, these fans often are used to increase the effectiveness of the air-distribution system, which can reduce the amount of outdoor air required to be brought into the building.
Using the airflow from large-diameter, low-speed ceiling fans to improve the overall environmental quality within school facilities allows for more constant, even temperatures that in turn combat localized humidity issues and the resulting mold growth that can occur. One Environmental Protection Agency study found that student attendance "rose 5 percent after incorporating cost-effective indoor-air-quality improvements."
Large-diameter, low-speed fans turn the air in the space over several times per hour, ensuring good air distribution and creating a cooling effect in the summer that enables a user to increase a thermostat setpoint. In the winter, proper air circulation eliminates the short-circuiting concerns that commonly arise with overhead air-distribution systems.
According to an article published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), advanced, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems create cleaner, more healthful indoor environments that lower student and staff absentee rates and improve teacher retention.