By Vijaykumar Zore
Creating an excellent atmosphere for students and faculty is a primary goal for many school leaders across the nation. With allergies, flu, and other viruses being a concern at different points in the year, having mechanical HVAC equipment that helps control these problems is necessary. While containing pathogens is typically top of mind for facility managers and school leaders, there are other aspects of indoor air quality that play a major role in the student experience.
Ventilation and dehumidification are vital for keeping students comfortable in a classroom setting. But these issues can be heightened when the school is located in a coastal environment. In these settings, humidity is much more prominent due to the increased moisture in the air. More humidity means muggier air and a higher chance of organic growth. In addition, it limits the school’s ventilation ability if the air isn’t properly treated when introduced into the school.
Selecting the proper solution to combat the high levels of humidity is key for creating the optimal student experience in these areas.
Air Ventilation And Humidity Control
With humidity being a major concern in K-12 schools along the coastline, mechanical HVAC systems remain the best solution for introducing fresh, clean air into classrooms. As mentioned, the biggest hurdle is finding a way to properly treat the air while making it comfortable for students to breathe. Many HVAC units have a primary coil for outside and return air. While this is perfectly fine in areas located more inland, a single coil may not be enough to provide humidity control and comfortable room temperatures in climates with extreme humidity levels.
Contractors should recommend that facility managers in coastal climates look to HVAC products that have a dual coil/fan arrangement for better performance. This helps provide accurate temperature and humidity control in humid climates. For example, Airedale equipped the Sentinel High Humidity with a dedicated outside air pretreatment coil, which allows the unit to introduce dehumidified, comfortable air into classrooms while providing high-quality ventilation with the dedicated outside air EC fan and filter.
Products that are similar to the Sentinel High Humidity will allow schools along the coastline to introduce clean, fresh air into classrooms without the worry of students suffering from humid, muggy air.
Ventilation and dehumidification solutions provide K-12 schools in humid environments with the proper tools to combat the increased moisture in the air, but schools still need to recognize the importance of filtration equipment. Once the fresh air has been treated and introduced into the classroom, filtration solutions minimize the number of particulates that enter the space. Remember, the flu, allergies, and other airborne pathogens remain a concern throughout the year. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends using MERV 13 filters for systems that are compatible. In addition, most HVAC units can be upgraded for an extra layer of protection, such as installing Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization. This tool delivers positive and negative ions into the classroom through the ventilation system. Once in the space, they attach to airborne particulates, cluster and filter them from the air.
Creating An Excellent Experience
Humidity can be problematic in coastal climates. Whether you are in south Alabama or Miami, Florida, having comfortable air can be a luxury. For students in K-12 schools in these areas, it should be a guarantee. Creating an experience for students should be a priority, and one of the best ways to do that is by providing them with comfortable, safe air. Having the right solutions in place is a must. In many cases, that means upgrading or purchasing an HVAC unit with more than one primary coil to help treat the humid air. The best learning experience is a comfortable learning experience, and that can be accomplished with proper dehumidification and ventilation solutions.
Zore is a Sr. Product Engineer of IAQ for Modine Manufacturing Company. At Modine, we are engineering a cleaner, healthier world. Building on more than 100 years of excellence in thermal management, we provide trusted systems and solutions that improve air quality and conserve natural resources. More than 11,000 employees are at work in every corner of the globe, delivering the solutions our customers need, where they need them. Our Climate Solutions and Performance Technologies segments support our purpose by improving air quality, reducing energy and water consumption, lowering harmful emissions, and enabling cleaner running vehicles and environmentally-friendly refrigerants. Modine is a global company headquartered in Racine, Wisconsin (USA), with operations in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.