The right kinds of flooring can help schools thwart indoor-air-quality problems.
One of the top five public health hazards, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is indoor air quality (IAQ). And it is a problem in more than 50 percent of the nation's schools, a report from the General Accounting Office says. The potential health risks to students, faculty and other employees is causing nationwide concern among facility administrators and planners in school districts.
As one facility administrator says: "The job requires us to be part scientist and part crystal-ball reader. We need to plan buildings with the tools available today that will stand the test of time for the next half century. That's quite a chore!"
So how will today's facility administrators create a school environment that will be conducive to learning, and safe and healthy for the next 50 years?
IAQ specialists have found that the right interior materials, particularly flooring, can help improve air quality. The right match can help schools provide a healthier learning environment and accurately forecast 40-year lifecycle costs of flooring for the building.
When selecting floors for school facilities, administrators need to ask five important questions. Can the flooring product:
- Help improve the chief causes of poor IAQ quality - moisture that encourages microbial growth; dust and airborne allergens, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?
- Perform IAQ functions for 20 years, half of the normal life cycle of a school building, or will it wear out before the warranty expires?
- Perform its IAQ functions while controlling maintenance costs?
- Improve the learning environment - that is, aid in acoustic, ergonomic and thermal comfort, and control glare from natural and direct lighting?
- Offer any environmental benefits?