Overall Assessment of Indoor Conditions in a School Building: an Italian Case Study

Document Type : Original Research Paper


Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Padua, 35131 Padua, Italy


Current standards for indoor comfort are based on studies of adults, but they also apply to
children, even though children differ in terms of metabolic rates, clothing types, activity levels, and preferences in space arrangement. Children are also more sensitive to a range of environmental factors, they are usually unable to interact with their environment, and they accept indoor conditions passively. This study aims to extend research into indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for children by providing analysis, measurements and surveys carried out in an Italian primary school. Continuous monitoring was combined with a detailed spot monitoring campaign, during which pupils completed a questionnaire so that subjective and objective evaluations could be compared. Thermal comfort was also evaluated by comparing pupils’ sensations based on the two most common approaches: the heat balance and adaptive comfort models. Tests revealed that there was no clear, uniform correspondence between subjective response and acoustic and thermal measurements. Children reacted actively to discomfort, suggesting that they should be allowed to interact with their environment. Building acoustics were also measured in order to evaluate the insulating properties of building elements. The following tests were conducted: façade sound insulation, sound insulation of the vertical and horizontal partitions between classrooms, and the impact levels between overlapped classrooms. Reverberation time and background noise were measured in unoccupied, furnished classrooms after school hours. Impulse response and Speech Transmission Index (STI) measurements were also performed in one classroom.