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What Climate Control System Do You Need for a School?

What Climate Control System Do You Need for a School?

, by Thrive Agency, 6 min reading time

Studying in an environment that’s too hot, too cold or has poor indoor air quality (IAQ) isn’t just uncomfortable. It also negatively impacts students' well-being and ability to soak up information. 

According to research highlighted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), even moderate indoor temperature changes affect students' abilities to perform tasks that require mental concentration. Meanwhile, poor IAQ can trigger asthma and allergies, resulting in increased absenteeism. 

Ensuring a comfortable and healthy learning environment is crucial for the well-being and success of students. One key aspect of this is the climate control systems installed in schools, which are essential in maintaining optimal temperature, humidity and air quality. 

In this blog, we provide insights into the process of choosing the right climate control system for your school, taking into account various factors and highlighting the different types of systems available.

What Is Climate Control? 

“Climate control” refers to regulating indoor temperature in homes, businesses, schools and other buildings. A climate control system is essentially a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system that sets and maintains precise temperature, humidity levels, and air quality within a space. 

Optimal climate control significantly benefits schools by creating a healthy, comfortable environment for students and staff.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Climate Control System for a School

Selecting a climate control system for a school requires thoughtful consideration of various factors. These include the following: 

Current HVAC Equipment 

How old your system is, how well it has been maintained and how many years of service life it has left are important considerations. If your school has an existing HVAC system, consider hiring a technician to inspect it and determine whether it can be retrofitted or if it needs to be completely replaced.  

The Size and Layout of the School Building

The number of classrooms and other spaces, such as an auditorium or a cafeteria, will impact the type of system needed. Ideally, the climate control equipment you choose can control the climate across all zones of your building. 

However, schools are typically split into zones because of diverse heating, cooling and ventilation needs. For instance, computer laboratories may need more cooling, while cafeterias and their kitchens need more ventilation. Additionally, some areas of the school will be in use and occupied for longer than others – examples are faculty rooms and administrative offices, meaning they need heating, cooling and ventilation for longer periods than classrooms.  

For a typical school, the ideal HVAC system should be multi-zone. A multi-zone system allows you to control the heating and cooling in individual zones. With this system, each zone is controlled by its thermostat. 

A multi-zone system is also ideal for buildings with layouts that result in inconsistencies in temperature due to factors like sun exposure or poor air circulation. Several strategically placed thermostats can create a more uniform temperature distribution throughout the school.

Existing Vents 

The number of existing supply and return vents in a building impacts the required airflow capacity of an HVAC system. If the school doesn’t have enough vents, air would need to travel further to cycle back to the heating and cooling unit, resulting in uneven heating and cooling. Also, the system would need to work harder to distribute heated or cooled air throughout the space. 

Meanwhile, a less powerful HVAC system would need more vents to cool or heat a space, potentially resulting in early wear and tear and equipment breakdowns. 

Ideally, your system should provide sufficient airflow through the existing vents to effectively cool and heat your building. A qualified HVAC professional can help you determine the optimal system capacity and airflow distribution based on your building needs.

Ventilation Requirements

It’s important to note that classrooms need much more ventilation than a home or an office. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a school’s HVAC system should provide acceptable indoor air quality, as defined by ASHRAE Standard 62.1.

Climate and Geographical Location of the School

Considering the average temperature and humidity levels throughout the year is essential, as different systems will better respond to certain climates. Seasonal changes will also impact a climate control system's performance and energy efficiency, particularly if the school experiences extreme temperature fluctuations between seasons.

Energy Efficiency and Cost

The initial cost of system installation should be weighed against the long-term operational and maintenance costs. To get the best possible return on investment (ROI), choose a system with energy-saving technology to help reduce utility costs.

Indoor Air Quality and Health

The system you choose should be able to filter and purify air, as this is essential for maintaining optimal indoor air quality. Additionally, a system with humidity control features can help prevent mold and allergens, reducing the risk of these health hazards impacting the health of students and staff. 

Common Types of HVAC Systems Used in Schools

When considering climate control systems for schools, there are several options available:

Centralized Systems

Common types of centralized systems include variable air volume (VAC) and constraint air volume (CAV) systems. Centralized systems have a central air handling unit (AHU) that heats and cools air, which is distributed through ductwork and vents to zones throughout the building. 

Unit Ventilators

These are self-contained units that were designed specifically for schools. They can introduce up to 100% of outdoor air into a school building. These units are simple to install and allow for per-room temperature control. New designs address past issues with this system, such as limited cooling capacity, poor energy efficiency and noise. 

Heat Pumps

Depending on the type, a heat pump transfers heat from outside air or the ground to an indoor space. Air-to-air and geothermal heat pumps are popular due to their high energy efficiency and eco-friendliness. 

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Systems 

VRF systems utilize a network of refrigerant pipelines connecting a single outdoor condensing unit to multiple indoor units located in different zones throughout the building. They allow for flexible design and installation. 

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for schools' climate control. The right one for your building depends on various factors, from the size of your school to energy efficiency and costs. An HVAC professional can help you by designing a system that considers your school’s unique heating and cooling needs and your budget. 

Choose Value Controls for Quality Thermostats 

Value Controls is a trusted provider of new and certified pre-owned thermostats. We aim to provide our customers with the best value by offering a selection of competitively priced HVAC thermostats, controllers, actuators, sensors, and EMS components from major manufacturers.

Shop for wireless thermostats on Value Controls, or call us at 1-800-584-9901 today!

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