circumstances. Using Trumpington College as an example once again, ventilation is primarily provided via the central space, where staff can remotely operate the motorised skylights whenever required. Tempered air is also brought in through a buried labyrinth. Professional Barrett’s report states that children

are particularly vulnerable to all types of pollutants due to their breathing and metabolic rates being high. There is also much less volume of air per child owing to high occupancy density. The modular skylights at the College addressed this by creating what Clever Classrooms calls ‘top openings that are high in the room, but easy to use, allowing the hottest and stalest air to escape more efficiently’ and in a controlled manner.

Keeping your cool As well as the levels of natural daylight and air quality, ensuring the temperature in classrooms is at the right level is also extremely important. The provision of good thermal conditions is often based on energy-efficient technologies such as natural ventilation, solar shading and intelligent building design (for the warmer months), and efficient, adjustable heating (for the colder months). It is increasingly accepted that there is no such

thing as a ‘natural’ comfort temperature. The best results with regards to cooling and heating can be achieved by providing occupants with personal and adaptive options, such as access to personally operable windows, personal control over sun shading, and possibly also desk fans and other such devices. For the past several decades, researchers have

been studying the optimal temperature range associated with better learning outcomes. Zeiler and Boxem (2009)** carried out a thorough review in order to demonstrate the effects of thermal quality in schools on the learning performance of students. Mendell and Heath (2005)***, meanwhile,

reviewed evidence for the effect of indoor environmental quality on both performance and attendance, and Fisk (2017)**** did an extensive literature review about ventilation problems in schools, its impact on student performance, health and absence. These studies found that as temperature and humidity increase, students report greater discomfort and their levels of achievement and task performance deteriorate, as a result of decreasing attention spans. High classroom temperatures have also been associated with headaches and eye, ear, nose and throat symptoms, while high humidity levels can

lead to increasing incidence of mould, which can in turn cause or exacerbate a range of health problems. Natural cooling achieved by opening windows

and skylights is a fast and direct way to influence the thermal indoor environment. An open window creates increased air motion, and if the outdoor temperature is lower than the indoor temperature, then the indoor temperature will fall. Even when the outdoor air temperature is slightly higher than indoors, the elevated air speed due to increased airflow will increase cooling of the body. Natural ventilation for cooling can be done in

two ways – day ventilation and night ventilation. Ventilation during the day removes excess heat from inside the building by creating high levels of movement in the air. Night ventilation will cool down a building’s walls, floors and furniture, also referred to as thermal mass, at night using cool outdoor air. The following day, less cooling energy is needed within the building as the thermal mass has already been cooled. Orientation of the classroom and shading

control also play an important part in creating consistent thermal comfort. Large windows and skylights can be oriented to allow maximum sunlight to penetrate in the winter months and shaded with moveable shading devices to block out sunlight in the summer months as needed.

Summary With school building design having an impact on a student’s ability to learn, and the benefits of

natural daylight, ventilation and temperature control far outweighing those of artificial electronic options, a growing number of architects are choosing modular skylights. Specifying a skylight that offers all the offsite

benefits of being fully prefabricated in a factory- controlled environment ensures that they fit right, first time, every time on site - and can be up to three times faster than a traditional installation. The modules simply click into place and can be fitted together in minutes, minimising time spent on the roof and ensuring a watertight seal is achieved exceptionally quickly, so rain won’t hold up the installation. This is vital for educational builds, where time and budget constraints can put strain on schedulers and builders alike.

SOURCES + University of Salford’s Clever Classrooms - Summary report of the HEAD Project. (Holistic Evidence and Design). Professor Peter Barrett, Dr Yufan Zhang, Dr Fay Davies, Dr Lucinda Barrett.

* SINPHONIE final report

** Zeiler & Boxem (2009). Effects of thermal activated building systems in schools on thermal comfort in winter. Building and Environment.

*** Mendell and Heath (2005). Do Indoor Pollutants and Thermal Conditions in Schools Influence Student Performance? A Critical Review of the Literature. Indoor Air

**** Fisk (2017) The ventilation problem in schools: literature review. Indoor Air

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