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Indoor Air Quality | CO2 Sensors | by sean hockey

Breathing fresh clean air. Yet another one of the many things we humans take for granted in our lives. Air quality is an extremely important factor in living a healthy life, and is essential for proper physical and mental performance. So it’s easy to see why proper ventilation and air quality are especially important in academic environments. Inadequate air quality can inevitably lead to poor performance by both faculty and students alike. Just ask anyone who suffers from asthma or other respiratory ailments. They certainly don’t take air quality for granted.

Fortunately, there appears to be a solution to the indoor air quality issue in schools and other similar institutions, and it comes in the form of CO2-based ventilation. Pioneered by Telair (a GE acquisition), the system measures the amount of CO2 particles in the room and then adjusts the amount of room ventilation to dilute the CO2 concentration. While an under ventilated building can have serious health and performance repercussions for the occupants, an over ventilated building is quite simply a waste of energy. So it could be said that the system also saves the building operators money in addition to creating a better working environment for the occupants.

A report issued by the Energy Innovation Group cites the example of the Coquitlam School District in British Columbia, which has been able to save ten to fifteen thousand dollars in yearly energy costs by switching to CO2 based ventilation systems. The report outlines how typical ventilation setups for school gymnasiums operate as if the room is constantly at full capacity. By switching to a CO2 based unit, the school board was able to maximize the efficiency its HVAC system.
According to the report, since their first installation, the school board has installed CO2 based systems in 18 schools and hope to have them installed in 24 more. They are also evaluating the benefits of applying this method of ventilation to classroom use. “It meets the requirements for our indoor air quality program as well as reducing operating energy costs… so if we can save $10,000 to $15,000 per year per school in ventilation and make everybody comfortable and happy, that’s exactly where we want to go” said John McKay, Resource Conservation Manager for the district school board.

Health Canada has also taken note of the importance of proper ventilation and air quality in schools. In fact, they have released an entire kit for school administrators, outlining the importance of indoor air quality and the ways that it can be improved, which can be found the Health Canada website1 The report recommends a well-functioning HVAC system, among other precautions, as a means of keeping the ventilation levels in schools at satisfactory levels.

Through CO2 based ventilation technology, GE Advanced Sensors have provided school administrators throughout North America with a solution that could dramatically improve the quality of academic life in their respective schools, in addition to saving thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.

By Sean Hockey

About the author: Sean Hockey is a marketing assistant at Cranial-8, and freelance broadcast producer. Sean holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours, Mass Communication from Carleton University, Ottawa Ontario and a Certificate in Television Broadcasting from Algonquin College, Ottawa Ontario. Sean lives in Toronto Ontario.

Further Reading:
1 Health Canada: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/air/tools_school-outils_ecoles/index-eng.php
2 GE CO2 Sensor: http://www.ge-mcs.com/en/co2.html
3 Cranial-8: http://www.cranial-8.com/

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