Using IAQ To Improve Academic Performance

The University of Miami improves indoor air quality and saves energy by installing HVAC Load Reduction Technology.

Studies show that most colleges and universities have inadequate indoor air quality (IAQ), which can result in increased health issues and lower student performance. Symptoms like headache, dizziness, and tiredness have been found to be higher in classrooms with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, as well as increased difficulty concentrating.

Miami indoor air qualityOther studies have found students had less attention and vigilance in classrooms with low IAQ, and even more negative impact on higher-order complex tasks. Research by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that improved IAQ through reduced contaminants in buildings can help boost the cognitive performance of individuals by as much as 101 percent. With this in mind, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically recommends that schools have a comprehensive IAQ management plan.

Using traditional HVAC systems, the entire volume of a school building’s inside air is replaced by outside air every one to two hours. While this helps limit concentrations of indoor contaminants, the high volume of outside air must be heated or cooled to maintain comfortable temperatures and humidity inside the building — a significant waste of energy.

What’s more, outside air is often not clean air, bringing in its own harmful pollutants, especially for school buildings located near highly-trafficked roads, airports, or in busy urban centers. In fact, a study by researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Public Health indicated that people living, working, or studying within 1,500 feet of a highway have a greater likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease from the pollutants caused by highways and traffic.

So, how can schools ensure a healthy learning and working environment for their students, faculty and staff, without accruing incremental costs to do so?

The University of Miami in Florida decided to proactively address these issues at its UHealth Fitness and Wellness center with enVerid Systems, Inc.’s HVAC Load Reduction® (HLR®) technology. This technology effectively captures and removes all contaminants from indoor air, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), aldehydes, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter (PM2.5). Implementing enVerid’s HLR technology helped the school to not only achieve superior IAQ for students, faculty, and staff, but also achieve a 28 percent average reduction in total HVAC energy consumption and 41 percent peak HVAC capacity reduction.

“It’s just a clean process where you’re taking air and you’re removing the contaminants, and then shooting those contaminants back outside,” said Carl Thomason, Energy Manager at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and UHealth Hospital and Clinics. “With the enVerid system, we actually gained better indoor air quality with less outside air. Our original CO2 levels were usually around 900 parts per million, now with the enVerid system our CO2 levels are around 700 ppm. VOCs are also down across the board, so it’s worked out quite well for us.”

Learn more about the University of Miami’s installation by watching a video case study.