It's More Than the Air: Why Indoor Environmental Quality Matters

What makes up a healthy indoor school environment? Good indoor air quality likely comes to mind. Same with green cleaning practices. These elements of a healthy indoor environment are getting a lot of attention lately as schools plan for reopening in the fall. And rightly so. Poor ventilation contributes to the spread of bacteria and viruses (including COVID-19). Surfaces that aren't cleaned and disinfected properly can harbor dirt and germs. Using toxic chemicals to clean and disinfect can negatively impact the health of students, teachers, and staff.
 
Indoor air quality and green cleaning are important elements to consider for a healthy indoor school environment. They deserve the attention they are getting to ensure students, teachers, and staff can return to safe and healthy buildings once schools reopen. But they aren't the only things that matter. A healthy indoor environment takes into account other elements too, like lighting, acoustics, thermal comfort, and ergonomic design. Taken together, these elements contribute to the creation of building spaces that are conducive to learning and innovation.
 
This past month, GreenNotes featured articles that highlight the importance of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in our school buildings. Articles spanned the gamut from examining the benefits of good IEQ and implementing preventive maintenance practices to involving students in gathering IEQ data and advocating for safer and healthier learning environments. Other stories reveal the top concerns for school sustainability staff as they prepare to reopen schools and describe how a district director of operations plans to approach IEQ in the wake of COVID-19. It's our hope that you can take a lesson or two from these stories and apply them in your school or school district. Pandemic or not, good IEQ just makes good sense - for the health of the school building AND the health of students, teachers, and staff.
Feature Articles


Using Existing Buildings as Teaching Tools: Investigating Indoor Environmental Quality at Adams 12 Five Star Schools




Addressing Air Quality: Student-Led Investigations Explore Solutions for Mold and Pollution at School and in the Community




Balancing the Three-Legged Stool: Indoor Environmental Quality Drives Healthy Learning Environments




Doubling Down on Coronavirus: How One Pennsylvania School District Facility Manager Plans to Approach COVID-19 in the Fall




Clearing the Air: An Update on Indoor Air Quality Guidance and Challenges for Reopening Schools




Plastic Grass Isn't Greener

Reprinted with permission from Green Teacher magazine.
Green Schools National Network | in fo@greenschoolsnationalnetwork.org