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A research in public schools in Navarra confirms the usefulness of ventilation to reduce CO2 levels in pandemics.

Monitoring by the University's group of research before and after COVID shows that the temperature dropped by 2°C in the classrooms in winter and CO2 levels were reduced by up to one-fifth.

PhotoManuelCastells/From left to right, some of the project researchers: Purificación González, Dolores López, Aurora Monge, Alberto Arriazu, Ainhoa Arriazu and Ana Sáchez-Ostiz.

21 | 09 | 2021

The group of research SAVIArquitectura of the University of Navarra - in the framework of the call for the subsidy of projects of research and knowledge transfer to be carried out in educational centers financed with public funds of the Government of Navarra - has found that the frequent ventilation measures taken in the classrooms on the occasion of COVID-19 have reduced by one fifth the levels of CO2 in the interior spaces, reaching parameters of 1,100 ppm that before the pandemic could be even more than 5,000 ppm.

The team of researchers at project -led by Professor Aurora Monge and formed by Ana Sánchez-Ostiz, Dolores López, Ainhoa Arriazu, Maira Bes, Purificación González, Nerea Martín, Jorge San Miguel, Alberto Arriazu and Sara Dorreau School of Architecture Aurora Monge and formed by Ana Sánchez-Ostiz, Dolores López, Ainhoa Arriazu, Maira Bes, Purificación González, Nerea Martín, Jorge San Miguel, Alberto Arriazu and Sara Dorregaray - began studying energy efficiency in nine public secondary schools and high school program in Pamplona prior to the pandemic. In one of them, the IES Navarro Villoslada, they also monitored temperature, relative humidity and indoor air quality. In the 20-21 academic year, more monitoring was added in three centers in Pamplona, Tudela and Elizondo. "This allowed us to have reference letter measurements prior to the pandemic and to compare them directly with those taken during the pandemic, to assess the usefulness of the measures that the department of Education proposed for the last academic year in the schools of the Autonomous Community", explains the principal investigator of project, Aurora Monge.

As detailed by the teacher in the School of Architecture, "in the first monitored center, and in spite of increasing heating consumption by 30%, the temperature average barely reached 19ºC, with minimums of 15ºC. Something already observed in general in educational centers, since students have been allowed to wear coats to class. From Education, therefore, the teaching has been explicitly prioritized in times of pandemic over other criteria of comfort or energy efficiency, so that schools have remained open in Spain throughout the school year, something that has not happened in many European countries".

The usefulness of "heat recuperators".

In cold climates, or in months in which the lower temperature leave of 12 ° C, the authors of the study indicate that one way to ensure the balance between adequate ventilation and temperature is the resource of mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. "In addition," adds the study's author and director of the Master's Degree in design and management Environmental Buildings (MDGAE) of the University of Navarra Ana Sánchez-Ostiz, "the study has shown that it is essential, with a view to this coming school year, to continue with the high commitment of academic staff in maintaining natural ventilation patterns."

"The Next Generation Funds can become the opportunity to undertake the rehabilitation of the thermal envelope, implement measures that favor natural and/or mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems, have adequate heating systems and renewable energy production -especially in older schools- and act on the urban school environment, so as to allow adequate ventilation, avoiding pollution and external noise". "If we want to ensure the teaching presence and adequate learning, the pandemic has taught us that this involves ensuring air quality in classrooms," concludes Ana Sánchez-Ostiz.