Room-level Ventilation in Schools and Universities

We’re very happy to announce the publication of our latest manuscript, Room-level Ventilation in Schools and Universities, in the open access journal Atmospheric Environment X.

Good ventilation is one of the most important tools in our arsenal for reducing the transmission of airborne infectious diseases such as COVID-19. It’s also critical for maintaining healthy indoor air quality. In late 2020, McNeill Group Ph.D. student Do Young Maeng made ventilation measurements in classrooms around our campus, as part of the ramp-up to reopening after the initial COVID-19 shutdown. Our university comprises a mixture of new buildings with mechanical ventilation (HVAC) and historic buildings. We used controlled-release CO2 measurements to supplement the tools HVAC engineers normally use for characterizing airflow in rooms in order to measure ventilation in the older buildings, which primarily have natural ventilation. After working with facilities management on campus to characterize the ventilation in our classrooms and make mitigation plans for rooms with inadequate ventilation, we realized that many of our air quality and engineering colleagues were doing similar service to their universities and local schools across the country. So we got together, shared our experiences, and wrote this manuscript.

In this paper, we review techniques for characterizing ventilation and their pros and cons. We present case studies from a broadly diverse set of buildings (old, new, HVAC, natural ventilation, different climates) and make recommendations for best practices. We hope that this manuscript is informative and helpful.

McNeill, V.F.*, Corsi, R., Huffmann, J.A., King, C., Klein, R., Lamore, M., Maeng, D.Y., Miller, S.L., Ng, N.L., Olsiewski, P., Godri Politt, K.J., Segalman, R., Sessions, A., Squires, T., Westgate, S., Room-level Ventilation in Schools and Universities. Atmos. Environ. X  13 100152 (2022) link to paper