Special Issue "Advances in Indoor Environmental Quality, Healthiness, and Sustainability of Educational Buildings"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Giacomo Salvadori
Website1 Website2 SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Building Physics Laboratory, School of Engineering, University of Pisa, Italy
Interests: sustainable buildings; energy performance of lighting systems; building acoustics; visual ergonomics of workplaces; indoor environmental quality
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Francesco Leccese
Website1 Website2 SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Energy, Systems, Territory and Constructions Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Pisa, Largo Lucio Lazzarino, 56122 Pisa, Italy
Interests: energy performance of buildings, daylighting, room acoustics, optical radiations exposure, noise exposure
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Educational buildings represent a strategic category among all built environments. New generations begin and complete their education as individuals and professionals within these buildings, and they spend a long time in these environments. It has been widely demonstrated by the scientific literature that the characteristics of the environments are able to significantly influence the learning process of the students and have an impact on the stress levels experienced by the teachers. The design strategies and techniques played out for these environments (whether newly built or undergoing renovation) must follow continuous improvements to ensure buildings in which the learning process is increasingly efficient.

The recent trend in the analysis is to consider indoor environmental quality with a holistic approach, putting the student at the centre of the analysis and trying to characterize the elements that interact with the student through sensorial stimuli, influencing the perceived comfort and the learning process. This type of analysis is decidedly multidisciplinary, because it involves assessments of physical and environmental, and physiological parameters, so the types of professionals interested in these investigations vary widely, ranging from architects and designers, to experts in building physics, to doctors and neuroscientists. Despite the complexity of the theme, the possibility of having very advanced tools both in the field of measurement instrumentation and in the field of software simulation has allowed one to considerably deepen the scientific investigations.

It therefore seems useful to allow the different research groups working on this theme to publish their latest advances by collecting papers in a Special Issue focused on, but not limited to, the following topics about educational buildings: overall indoor environmental quality assessment, energy efficiency and sustainability evaluation, acoustic comfort analysis, thermal comfort analysis, visual comfort analysis, indoor air quality evaluation, occupant safety, and health assessment.

Dr. Giacomo Salvadori
Prof. Francesco Leccese
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • overall indoor environmental quality assessment
  • energy efficiency and sustainability evaluation
  • acoustic comfort analysis
  • thermal comfort analysis
  • visual comfort analysis
  • indoor air quality evaluation
  • occupant safety and health assessment

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Seasonal Variation of Indoor Radon Concentration Levels in Different Premises of a University Building
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6174; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156174 - 31 Jul 2020
Abstract
In the present study, we aimed to determine the changes of indoor radon concentrations depending on various environmental parameters, such as the outdoor temperature, relative humidity, and air pressure, in university building premises of different applications and heights. The environmental parameters and indoor [...] Read more.
In the present study, we aimed to determine the changes of indoor radon concentrations depending on various environmental parameters, such as the outdoor temperature, relative humidity, and air pressure, in university building premises of different applications and heights. The environmental parameters and indoor radon concentrations in four different premises were measured each working day over an eight-month period. The results showed that the indoor radon levels strongly depended on the outside temperature and outside relative humidity, whereas the weakest correlations were found between the indoor radon levels and indoor and outdoor air pressures. The obtained indoor radon concentration and environmental condition correlations were different for the different premises of the building. That is, in two premises where the ventilation effect through unintentional air leakage points prevailed in winter, positive correlations between the radon concentration and outside temperature were obtained, reaching the values of 0.94 and 0.92, respectively. In premises with better airtightness, negative correlations (R = −0.96 and R = −0.62) between the radon concentrations and outside temperature were obtained. The results revealed that high quality air isolation in premises could be an important factor for higher indoor radon levels during summer compared to winter. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Protocol for Post Occupancy Evaluation in Schools to Improve Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Efficiency
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3712; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093712 - 03 May 2020
Abstract
Research has shown a strong correlation between the performance and health of young students and teachers, and the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of their schools. A post occupancy evaluation (POE) of a school’s IEQ can help stakeholders understand the current conditions of the [...] Read more.
Research has shown a strong correlation between the performance and health of young students and teachers, and the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of their schools. A post occupancy evaluation (POE) of a school’s IEQ can help stakeholders understand the current conditions of the building and their impact on occupant wellbeing and productivity. It can also provide pathways for building performance upgrades and resource allocation for school administrations. However, current research on POE in schools frequently omits the contexts of young students during evaluations. Furthermore, there is limited research on guidelines for performing POE and measurements in school facilities. This study adopted the National Environmental Assessment Toolkit (NEAT) and tailored qualitative methods to evaluate eight schools over an eight-year period. The methodology was refined throughout the study to develop a protocol for robust investigation of IEQ conditions in schools. The NEAT was developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Centre for Building Performance and Diagnostics for measuring the IEQ of office buildings. The paper addresses the challenges that may occur during POE and measurements (POE+M) and the differences between POE+M for offices and schools. It also determines how the POE+M process can be efficiently implemented to include all primary stakeholders in order to improve data collection for IEQ and energy efficiency analysis. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Right Amount of Technology in School Buildings
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1134; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031134 - 05 Feb 2020
Abstract
What is an adequate school building nowadays and which amount of technology does it need? How high is the indoor comfort in terms of thermal, visual, hygienic, and acoustical comfort? Are there technical aspects that stand out to other solutions? How do users [...] Read more.
What is an adequate school building nowadays and which amount of technology does it need? How high is the indoor comfort in terms of thermal, visual, hygienic, and acoustical comfort? Are there technical aspects that stand out to other solutions? How do users feel and act in the buildings? For this purpose, the Chair compared, in total, twelve selected modern, older, and renovated school buildings from different building age groups. For the comparison, it was essential to intensively analyze each of the twelve schools. This included visiting the schools, talking with the participating architects, specialist planners, builders, and school managers, procuring and analyzing planning documents and, where available, publications and reports, performing simulations and measurements in the classrooms, and surveying the buildings’ users. The predominant energy demand in schools is the energy expenditure for heating and cooling the air, especially for heating the air in the winter. Nevertheless, it turns out that from a purely energy-focused perspective, mechanical ventilation cannot be justified. It is also evident that transmission heat losses play a negligible role in school construction, which is why the “passive house” as a goal for renovations must be called into question. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Indoor Environmental Quality Analysis for Optimizing Energy Consumptions Varying Air Ventilation Rates
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 482; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020482 - 08 Jan 2020
Abstract
The energy refurbishment of the existing building heritage is one of the pillars of Italian energy policy. Aiming for energy efficiency and energy saving in end uses, there are wide and diversified improvement strategies, which include interventions on the building envelope and Heating, [...] Read more.
The energy refurbishment of the existing building heritage is one of the pillars of Italian energy policy. Aiming for energy efficiency and energy saving in end uses, there are wide and diversified improvement strategies, which include interventions on the building envelope and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, with the introduction of renewable energy sources. The research aims at evaluating the building energy consumptions and Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ), varying the airflow rates handled by the HVAC system. A Case Study (the Aula Magna of a university building) is analysed; an in-situ monitoring campaign was carried out to evaluate the trend of some environmental parameters that are considered to be significant when varying the external airflow rates handled by the HVAC system. Additionally, dynamic simulations were carried out, with the aim of evaluating the energy savings coming from the airflow rates reduction. The results of this case study highlight the opportunity to achieve significant energy savings, with only slight variations in IEQ; a 50% reduction in airflow rate would decrease energy consumption by up to 45.2%, while increasing the carbon dioxide concentration from 545 ppm to 655 ppm, while the Particulate Matter and Total Volatile Organic Compounds increase is insignificant. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Indoor Environmental Quality Evaluation of Lecture Classrooms in an Institutional Building in a Cold Climate
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6591; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236591 - 22 Nov 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
In this paper, ventilation, indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal and acoustic conditions, and lighting were studied to evaluate the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in an institutional building at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. This study examined IEQ parameters, including pressure, illuminance, [...] Read more.
In this paper, ventilation, indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal and acoustic conditions, and lighting were studied to evaluate the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in an institutional building at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. This study examined IEQ parameters, including pressure, illuminance, acoustics, carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, temperature, and humidity, with appropriate monitors allocated during a lecture (duration 50 min or 80 min) in four lecture classrooms repeatedly (N = 99) from October 2018 to March 2019 with the objectives of providing a comprehensive analysis of interactions between IEQ parameters. The classroom environments were maintained at 23 ± 1 °C and 33% ± 3% RH during two-season measurements. Indoor mean CO2 concentrations were 550–1055 ppm, and a mean sound level of 58 ± 3 dBA was observed. The air change rates were configured at 1.3–6.5 per hour based on continuous CO2 measurements and occupant loads in the lectures. A variance analysis indicated that the within-lecture classroom variations in most IEQ parameters exceeded between-lecture classrooms. A multilayer artificial neural network (ANN) model was developed on the basis of feedforward networks with a backpropagation algorithm. ANN results demonstrated the importance of the sequence of covariates on indoor conditions (temperature, RH, and CO2 level): Air change rate (ACR) > room operations (occupant number and light system) > outdoor conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Architectural Indoor Analysis: A Holistic Approach to Understand the Relation of Higher Education Classrooms and Academic Performance
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6558; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236558 - 20 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The influence of learning space on users has been broadly accepted and tested. However, the literature has focused on single factor research, instead of holistic approaches. Additionally, lower educational levels have been the focus of interest, while higher education is moving towards multi-method [...] Read more.
The influence of learning space on users has been broadly accepted and tested. However, the literature has focused on single factor research, instead of holistic approaches. Additionally, lower educational levels have been the focus of interest, while higher education is moving towards multi-method teaching. This paper focuses on how learning spaces for different purposes (practice and lecture rooms) may influence academic performance from a holistic approach of learning physical environment perception. For this, the iPEP scale (Indoor physical environment perception) is used and validated through Cronbach Alpha and Exploratory Factorial Analysis. Then, multiple linear regression is conducted. The results indicate that iPEP measures near to 63 percent of the construct, which is structured in six factors. Moreover, linear regression analyses support previous literature concerning the influence of learning physical environment on academic performance (R2 = 0.154). The differences obtained between practice and lecture room in terms of predictor variables bring to the light the need to diagnose learning environments before designing changes in educational buildings. This research provides a self-reported way to measure indoor environments, as well as evidence concerning the modern university, which desires to combine several teaching methods. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Use of Automated Control Systems and Advanced Energy Simulations in the Design of Climate Responsive Educational Building for Mediterranean Area
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1660; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061660 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Over the decades, a rapidly changing climate has prompted the world’s most influential leaders and institutions to take action against such an imminent threat. The introduction of Nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) concept, though, has barely triggered a major shift, while voluntary labelling [...] Read more.
Over the decades, a rapidly changing climate has prompted the world’s most influential leaders and institutions to take action against such an imminent threat. The introduction of Nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) concept, though, has barely triggered a major shift, while voluntary labelling systems do not seem to offer any reasonable alternative. Building design ought to be readdressed from the ground up, with climate-responsive constructions servings as a valuable starting point for the purpose. In this paper, conventional bioclimatic design is enhanced and supported by the introduction of Building Automation Control Systems: Typically, the former determines long-term seasonal patterns, whereas the latter only affects the short-term behavior. Their schedules are based on realistic assumptions, while set-points are fine-tuned following energy simulations. Good results have been achieved for a case-study facility in Porto, both in terms of indoor adaptive thermal comfort (the simulated operative temperature complies the adaptive comfort model for more than 98% of the reference year) and energy use (reduced by 53%, compared to a baseline building, devoid of any automation system). Being focused on the decision-making rather than on specific items of design, the authors claim that such an approach may be employed in any climate, regardless of the building type or size, as long as the process is driven by a genuine analysis of the local context (i.e., climate) and by purposefully devised energy simulations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Acoustical Renovation of University Multipurpose Halls: The Case of Lala Mustafa Paşa Hall
Sustainability 2019, 11(5), 1397; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11051397 - 06 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Eastern Mediterranean University’s Lala Mustafa Paşa hall is a multipurpose auditorium with conflicting functions. It is used for lectures, graduation ceremonies, music performances, shows, and sports. Thus, it is necessary to provide both speech intelligibility and quality sound. Many complaints were made regarding [...] Read more.
Eastern Mediterranean University’s Lala Mustafa Paşa hall is a multipurpose auditorium with conflicting functions. It is used for lectures, graduation ceremonies, music performances, shows, and sports. Thus, it is necessary to provide both speech intelligibility and quality sound. Many complaints were made regarding the long reverberation and echoes in the hall. To find the optimum solution for all of these conflicting uses, a survey of the acoustic parameters for music and speech was conducted, the criteria for which were identified. Measurements of these parameters were taken for the unoccupied hall. It was found that the acoustic conditions for both speech and music were in a critical condition in the hall. A simulation program was used to find a suitable solution, and various solutions were tested. The optimum solution was found to be the use of fireproof pyramidal melamine plates on the ceiling, and melamine plates with fireproof textile on the front surface with an air cavity on the walls at the rear. The long sidewalls at various levels on the tribunes were kept untreated. These measures satisfy the criteria for both music and speech without disrupting the sports activities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Indoor Environmental Quality for Retrofitting Classrooms with An Egg-Crate Shading Device in A Hot Climate
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 1078; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11041078 - 19 Feb 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
In the Mediterranean climate, a large number of educational buildings suffer from discomfort due mostly to energy-deficient thermal envelopes and a lack of cooling systems. Impending climate change is expected to worsen overheating in classrooms, especially during heatwave periods. Therefore, the protection of [...] Read more.
In the Mediterranean climate, a large number of educational buildings suffer from discomfort due mostly to energy-deficient thermal envelopes and a lack of cooling systems. Impending climate change is expected to worsen overheating in classrooms, especially during heatwave periods. Therefore, the protection of window openings to reduce incident solar radiation while maintaining adequate indoor environmental quality must be considered a necessary key focus. The main objective of this research is to assess the influence of an egg-crate shading device on the indoor environmental quality of a classroom in Southern Spain. To do so, two classrooms—with and without this shading device—were simultaneously monitored over a whole year. The implementation of an egg-crate shading device allowed for a significant reduction of the incident solar radiation, both in summer and mid-season (around 45–50%), which objectively slightly conditioned indoor operative temperatures. Given the noticeable influence of the user patterns observed, indoor illuminance was also improved, as the rolling shutters tended to be opened at higher aperture levels. Full article
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