• Healthier classrooms

     

 

HEALTHIER SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

Germany's pupils should learn in healthier environments. This is the goal of Sentinel Haus Institut's pilot project, which is implemented by Sentinel Haus Institut and a renowned testing institute. The conscious selection of construction products, furniture, and cleaning agents that have been tested with health in mind should significantly lower the concentration of pollutants in new or renovated classrooms.

 
The joint objectives

Living, learning and working in a healthy environment:

To pay closer attention to this important aspect of life, and especially to show how to achieve this objective, the pilot project "Healthy School Environment" Sentinel Haus Institut and the cooperating partners has provided answers to three questions in particular:

What pollutants are generated indoors in the conventional construction of homes, flats, offices, or public buildings, and what are the resulting health risks?

How can the planners, manufacturers, and retailers of materials influence users, owners, and operators of buildings to optimise health-related safety and the quality of occupying the buildings everyday life?

How can invitations to tender correctly include the higher health-related quality in educational facilities and prevent unnecessary added costs?

The project offers:

The pilot project starts with the youngest members of society, kids. Two classrooms were built in a centre in Cologne, Germany; one was constructed using products selected based on conventional, rather than health-based aspects, the other with certified low-emissions building materials. A renowned testing institute implements laboratory tests in both classrooms, with which the concentrations of volatile organic compounds can be measured in the indoor air. Xylene, toluene, or ethylbenzene are typical pollutants that are often used as solvents in paints, lacquers, and adhesives. If there is no emphasis on choosing building materials that are low in harmful substances, several hundreds of these compounds can be detected in the indoor air. The concentrations of these pollutants can be high enough to cause health problems in people who occupy new or renovated rooms. In addition to choosing building materials, the selection of furniture and cleaning agents in the model classrooms was based on the following criteria:

 

  • conventional/not selected based on the consideration of pollutants
  • low-emissions


For this reason, indoor air testing was conducted in discrete intervals in both classrooms, both after the classrooms were completed, as well as after furniture was added and products for cleaning and care were used.

An additional objective of the research project is to simplify the practice of healthy, low-emissions construction via a Germany-wide, uniform concept and uniform test marking requirements. This also includes the creation of binding standards for testing, measurement, and evaluation. Unlike the many other binding requirements for construction products and buildings, which merely aim to avert hazards, the criteria of the Sentinel concept serve the purpose of prevention and minimisation of pollutants with regard to healthy indoor air in all types of buildings. The wellbeing of our children is of the utmost importance. We want to provide them with education and a healthy life. For this reason, the German federal environmental agency (Umweltbundesamt) supports this project.


Additional information: Press releases, partners, evaluations