Seven insights on how schools need to rethink the indoor environment

Collective health management mechanics in schools are the future

The largest education union in Belgium is advocating for mobile filtration units in teacher rooms to combat indoor respiratory infections (DeStandaard 31/09). A defining first step we applaud. Single units have their purpose, but we must dare ask ourselves if this is a long term strategy?

Our schools should make our children healthier, not sick.

Industry 4.0 has given us the tools to assess, control and manage our indoor environment

The high occupancy rates, a diverse demographic, a strong impact on society and an outdated built environment. These conditions prove that there is a great opportunity for improvement.

Delivering innovation in these buildings will have a positive effect on many layers of our welfare society

A paradigm shift for the air we breathe

Catching & killing airborne viral pathogens mitigating the chance of respiratory diseases such as Influenza and Covid-19 for school children, teachers and everyone connected with the school. This should be a primary directive for the next years. Air quality in schools has an impact on children’s health, attendance and learning performance. Several studies have observed a reduction in school performance and increased absenteeism because of exposure to poor air quality in schools.

Removing airborne pathogens is the most daunting, but also shows the highest reward.

Stand for a better world, indoor and outdoors

A circular economy, Sustainable Development Goals and Economic and Social Governance are various topics discussed in classrooms and school boards. Students, parents and public opinion does not tolerate greenwashing anymore. If the system due to their engineering, industrial needs, shipping cost or logistics are polluting far more than what they ever could filter, it is the wrong road. But also, in the afterlife, what happens with the materials or filters after they have served their purpose? Are they recycled and if not, what happens with them? Pile them up, add them to the growing landfill every 3-4 years?

When we install new technologies a climate-neutral and friendly solution is the only option.

Stand for a better world, indoors and outdoors

A circular economy, Sustainable Development Goals and Economic and Social Governance are various topics discussed in classrooms and school boards. Students, parents and public opinion does not tolerate greenwashing anymore. If the system due to their engineering, industrial needs, shipping cost or logistics are polluting far more than what they ever could filter, it is the wrong road. But also, in the afterlife, what happens with the materials or filters after they have served their purpose? Are they recycled and if not, what happens with them? Pile them up, add them to the growing landfill every 3-4 years?

When we install new technologies a climate-neutral and friendly solution is the only option.

Inclusivity is the only way we can measure real success

If grade A gets the best conditions and grade B is left out, we have failed. Placing single units might seem like the solution but providing a service to a happy few is preposterous. We should not forget about our previous point. Installing 50 separate systems or one central system delivers only advantages, and it benefits maintenance and security immensely.

A global pandemic, a climate under attack, these share a common denominator: A responsibility for humankind. Fight the global pandemic, relieve the climate, create healthier and stronger children.

A central vision of safety and service

Easy maintenance of such systems is essential and will also determine the life and efficiency of the technology greatly, one of the main goals of a long-term strategy. Due to environmental fluctuations in the climatical and built environment, precise and expert guidance is Indispensable. Not maintaining systems creates a false sense of safety.

Letting third parties temper with the technology is chaos. High security comes in close relation to maintenance. Third parties should not be able to temper or adjust settings on such expensive and complex processes. A centralized system solves this problem in a blink. Maintaining 50 systems or one makes the difference.

Industry 4.0 applications make maintaining and troubleshooting a centralized system streamlined and practical.

Indoor Air Quality and ventilation practices are determined protagonists in the spread of airborne pathogens

Now that we have addressed the core around the physical removal of airborne pathogens it is time to focus on what influences them. The impact our ventilation practices have on our IAQ is in direct relation to the dominance of viral pathogens. Looking at your indoor environment as a single living organism with many needs is therefore crucial. Focussing only on filtration and removal will leave you with a disrupted environment. The water we drink and the soil we plant in is built around good microbes.

Trying to make the air sterile is unwanted and impossible. By managing the technology to optimal performance and tending the microbial landscape we achieve true progress.
Stijn Vanderschuren

The air we breathe not as a statistic neutral force, but as a driving positive vitality in preparation for the nascent next-generation health society. The school environment has a life-lasting impact on our children, we should treat it with the same gravitas.