Aircraft noise, overheating and poor air quality in classrooms in London primary schools

Azadeh Montazami, M. Wilson, F. Nicol

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    48 Citations (Scopus)


    The main source of ventilation in the majority of UK schools is windows. The occupants of the classroom (i.e. pupils and teachers) in noisy areas tend to shut windows especially during quiet activities (i.e. silent and lecturing activities) to reduce the effect on teaching of aircraft noise as well as other external noises. Closing windows has two negative impacts on classroom environments. Firstly it increases the likelihood of classrooms experiencing overheating in hot weather and secondly poor air quality due to the lack of sufficient ventilation in the building. Through objective and subjective in a number of schools using surveys, monitoring of indoor temperatures, and testing of air quality and aircraft noise levels it was concluded that those schools located in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport are more likely to experience overheating and poor air quality due to aircraft noise, which can subsequently have a negative impact on students’ achievements. Implications: Overheating is a growing concern in UK schools and is likely to become more so in the context of a warming climate. Poor air quality and excessive noise levels are also known to be a problem for learning. This paper shows that all these effects are exacerbated by airport noise causing teachers to keep windows closed and suggests that this should be a concern for designers and policy makers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-141
    JournalBuilding and Environment
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

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    • overheating
    • high background noise
    • air quality
    • primary school classrooms
    • natural ventilation


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