Indoor environment quality and adaptive behaviours in primary schools in the UK

  • Sepideh Sadat Korsavi

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Children spend a quarter of their waking life in classrooms and as the main occupants of primary schools represent a vulnerable group. Studying individual aspects of Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) is important for its impact on productivity, comfort, health and the well-being of building occupants. On the other hand, IEQ is significantly impacted by adaptive behaviours that influence energy consumption, indoor environment or state of comfort. Therefore, concerns over the environmental quality of primary school classrooms are growing. IEQ is grouped into four main categories: thermal comfort, indoor air quality (IAQ), visual and acoustic comfort. This thesis aims to investigate children’s thermal comfort, IAQ and visual comfort to find out how they are related to children’s adaptive behaviours, IEQ and overall comfort. This thesis was done in eight primary schools in Coventry, UK, during Non-Heating and Heating seasons. Through transverse sampling, 805 children were observed, and 1390 questionnaires were collected in 32 naturally ventilated classrooms. Results suggest that children’s thermal comfort (TC(children)) is 1.9K and 2.8K lower than that for adults (TC(CEN)) during non-heating and heating seasons, respectively. Yet, around 80% of window operations are carried out by teachers who have a higher comfort temperature than children. Children’s perception of IAQ is related to both CO2 levels and operative temperatures (Top), therefore, Top should be kept within children’s comfort temperature to improve perceived IAQ. To provide IAQ and have CO2 levels of 1000±50 ppm, average occupancy densities are suggested to be 2.3±0.05m2/p and 7.6±0.25 m3/p. These values correspond to the classroom area of 62.1±1.35 m2 and volume of 205.2±6.75 m3 with a height of 3.3 m. It is also shown that IAQ is mostly affected by occupants’ adaptive behaviours than other occupant-related factors. ‘Open area’ as the most important environmental adaptive behaviour is the reflection of Contextual, Occupant and Building (COB) factors. To have VR of 8±1.28 l/s.p during non-heating seasons and VR of 8±1.07 l/s.p during heating seasons, average open areas of 3.8m2 and 2m2 are required, respectively. This difference which is due to the temperature difference between inside and outside should be considered by schools’ designers in window design to provide a suitable thermal environment, adequate natural ventilation and facilitate the engagement of both teachers and children with controls. The results suggest that the highest priority should be given to controls that provide IAQ and thermal comfort.
    Date of AwardNov 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SponsorsCoventry University
    SupervisorAzadeh Montazami (Supervisor), John Halloran (Supervisor) & James Brusey (Supervisor)


    • Indoor Environment Quality
    • Thermal Comfort
    • Indoor Air Quality
    • Visual Comfort
    • Children
    • Adaptive Behaviours
    • Primary Schools

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