Operable Windows, Thermal Comfort, and Indoor Air Quality in K-12 Schools: Identifying the Gap and Proposing Future Studies

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Taheri, Helia
Rider, Traci Rose
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Schools are the second most important environment in children’s lives after homes (Baki-Biro et al. 2012; Mendell et al. 2013), illustrating the importance of school environments in students’ learning performance, health, and comfort (Abramson et al. 2006; Madueira et al. 2009; Annesi-Maesano et al. 2013; Mendes et al. 2014; Almeida et al. 2016). Ventilation is one of the factors impacting student learning performance; ventilation can be provided through operable windows, exhaust fans, or mechanical ventilation systems (Gao et al. 2014). Additionally, different building elements such as air ventilation systems, HVAC systems, and building envelopes, can affect ventilation and occupant comfort (Catalina and Iordache 2012). ASHRAE Guideline 10P (2010) establishes four conditions for human comfort: thermal, visual, acoustic, and indoor air quality. Thermal comfort and indoor air quality are viewed as the most important of the four comfort conditions to improve occupant health and productivity (Pan et al. 2018). Several studies have focused on the relationship between operable windows, thermal comfort and/or indoor air quality, but no literature is found synthesizing these studies to establish a gap in research (Almeida et al. 2016; Dhaka et al. 2013; Jiang et al. 2018; Jindal 2018). Through searching such keywords as operable windows, natural ventilation, open window, close window, temperature, thermal comfort, CO2, indoor air quality, and IAQ, 136 articles were found on Web of Science, ScienceDirect, and Google Scholars. From these papers, only thirty-one had research conducted in schools. A synthesis shows that these thirty-one articles have been conducted largely through quantitative methods, including environmental monitoring, survey, and simulation. Also, only one of them was located in the U.S., with the rest located in Europe (15 out of 31), Asia (12 out of 31), South America (2 out of 31) and South Africa (2 out of 31). In addition, 54% of the total (thirty-one) papers focused only on thermal comfort, 25% focused on indoor air quality and only 21% addressed the relationship between operable windows and both thermal comfort and indoor air quality in K-12 classrooms. This synthesis of literature shows that the current research emphasized measurements in air temperature, relative humidity, and air velocity to address thermal comfort, and used CO2 as the favored metric for measuring indoor air quality. This paper proposes future studies and methodologies to fill these identified gaps in the literature.
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