By David Mount, Shane Day
November 1st, 2014
When contemplating the myriad HVAC options for a new school facility, school districts often weigh construction costs, energy efficiency and long-term maintenance to select the best option. Current codes, industry standards and best practices ensure a baseline quality of occupant comfort and health provided by the mechanical system. While there are standards around human comfort, this ideal is extremely subjective and elusive to many school district facility managers. Addressing concerns around comfort is a strong motivator to not deviate from systems familiar to maintenance staff. Regardless of if these systems are energy-efficient, operationally cost-effective, or really provide comfortable and healthy indoor environments, familiarity allows operators to manipulate and adjust to help address occupant complaints.
However, research shows that comfort can have a significant impact on occupant performance, especially for student learning. What happens when student and staff comfort is a primary goal of a school district? How does the design team ensure an HVAC system that delivers comfort and still meets important cost and maintenance parameters? For Bainbridge Island School District, which serves a small, rural island community 30 minutes by ferry from downtown Seattle, comfort drove HVAC decisions with compelling results.