Good indoor air in schools raises pupil enjoyment and improves learning outcomes. If classrooms are too warm, the students’ performance decreases. Sufficient and balanced air-conditioning keeps the temperature at a pleasant level.
Pleasant, safe and stimulating environments that promote health and well-being are also environments that promote learning. The pleasantness and healthiness of an environment are affected by factors such as indoor air quality and temperature, acoustics, lighting and cleanliness.
Pupils’ performance is best when the temperature is right
In the “Indoor air quality and learning in schools” study, carried out in Finland, it was observed that sixth-grade students that have never felt that the classroom temperature is too high solved an average of 4% more mathematics tasks than students that felt every day that the classroom temperature was high. The study involved results from over 300 schools from the 2007 nationwide mathematics assessment.
The lower the temperature, the better the results
In the US, a study was carried out on the effects of temperature and circulation on the learning results of fifth-grade pupils in 70 schools during the 2008–2009 academic year. The lower the classroom temperature was, the better the results obtained by the pupils in a mathematics test. The results for tests of reading and natural sciences were similar, but the connection was not so clear. The classroom temperature varied between 20 and 25°C.
In Denmark, the effects of room temperature on pupils were studied during the 2004–2005 academic year. Results for tests of mathematical and linguistic skills showed clear improvements when the classroom temperature was lowered using cooling devices from 25 to 20°C. Boosting the air-conditioning also improved results.
Excessive temperature increases risk of illness
The research data indicates that symptoms relating to indoor air increase once the room temperature rises over 22°C. High indoor temperature and other indoor air problems can cause symptoms such as tiredness, dizziness, nausea, coughing and dryness of the eyes, airways and skin. High temperatures also increase the risk of getting upper respiratory tract infections.
Excessively warm indoor air is most harmful to pupils that have allergies, asthma or some other hypersensitivity. Immunologic defence problems make people susceptible to the effects of indoor air. Users of contact lenses suffered more than others from dry and warm indoor air.
Perception of temperature is individual
The body’s equilibrium temperature determines whether the room temperature is felt to be right or not. At the equilibrium temperature, the energy produced by the body’s metabolism is equal to the energy being transferred from the body to the surrounding environment. On average, people are comfortable with an indoor temperature of between 20 and 22°C, but some of us feel uncomfortable even at these temperatures. Perception of temperature is individual. The pleasantness of the room temperature also depends on factors such as clothing, air humidity, and air circulation speed.