Ensuring a high level of thermal comfort within schools is essential to the education of today’s students.
Modular school buildings are considered as special use buildings and are required to achieve higher energy performance and provide consistent comfort for all occupants. The National Construction Code (NCC) considers and measures thermal comfort under the Predicated Mean Vote (PMV) model. As insulation plays a crucial role when it comes to thermal comfort, it is essential to select the right material.
A new study carried out by the University of Newcastle Australia in conjunction with Kingspan Insulation investigated how thermal comfort impacts student learning and how using mechanical air-conditioning to achieve the optimum level of thermal comfort can affect global warming.
The study identified that in an educational setting, students productivity and learning can be meaningfully impacted by thermal comfort. Furthermore, using air-conditioning to assist with students learning not only provides poor quality air but also negatively impacts the environment.
The research also recognised that the optimum thermal comfort levels for students and adults differ, yet the thermal comfort standards for classrooms in Australia is based upon the standards of adults in America and Europe.
The findings show that upgrading existing modular classrooms helps improve thermal comfort conditions, provides a positive learning environment for students and reduces the impact on the environment due to a reduction in air-conditioning usage. The thermal comfort in modular classrooms can be updated "using passive measures such as insulation, sunscreens, ventilation and appropriately designed landscaping", (Vaughan et al., 2021).