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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T000090/1
Title: Advancing School Performance: Indoor environmental quality, Resilience and Educational outcomes (ASPIRE)
Principal Investigator: Mavrogianni, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Mumovic, Professor D Milner, Dr JT
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Mr Y Schwartz
Project Partners:
Architype Ltd Atelier Ten CIBSE
Department of Education & Employment Public Health England
Department: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 15 January 2020 Ends: 14 January 2022 Value (£): 350,129
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Building Ops & Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
11 Jun 2019 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 11 and 12 June 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Despite the fact that 10 million children in the UK spend 30% of their life at school, around 70% of that time inside a classroom, the building design determinants of indoor environmental quality in classrooms are poorly understood to date. However, there is significant evidence that poor indoor air quality and exposure to excess indoor temperatures can have detrimental impacts on the learning performance and health of pupils, in particular asthma, placing a high burden on national health services. This is particularly important when we take into account the increased vulnerability of children's bodies to indoor environmental hazards: Children breathe more indoor air pollutants than adults for their size, have a limited ability to thermoregulate and their immune systems are still developing. School buildings are, in the meantime, responsible for 15% of the UK's total public sector carbon emissions, with energy costs associated with heating, cooling, lighting and appliances being a large portion of school budgets. The school building sector could, therefore, play a pivotal role in the UK's transition to a low carbon building stock.

Policymakers, building designers, school managers, educators and parents in the UK recognise the importance of creating healthy and low carbon school environments but they need the tools and mechanisms to identify the best strategies to achieve them. Ensuring high indoor environmental quality in our school buildings whilst meeting pressing carbon emissions reduction targets is an urgent research priority and a major engineering challenge for the UK construction industry. Addressing it will not only help tackle the Government's 2018 Industrial Strategy Clean Growth targets but also help meet national strategic needs to protect the most vulnerable in society, increase educational attainment and reduce health inequities. As a response to this challenge, the interdisciplinary project ASPIRE aims to address a key knowledge gap: Can school buildings achieve low carbon emissions whilst maintaining high indoor environmental quality that enhances learning and health?

Our work will bring together, for the first time, three of Europe's largest studies on the impact of classroom indoor air quality and temperature, and schoolchildren's learning and health in temperate climates. Their novel, systematic co-analysis will establish relationships between exposures to indoor air pollutants, temperatures and ventilation rates and cognitive performance and health symptoms for a wide range of educational settings.

We will analyse Department for Education data to construct a library of school building archetypes that are statistically representative of the UK school building stock. The archetype descriptions will include details such as interior layouts and building fabric characteristics and will be used to simulate the energy, thermal and indoor air quality performance of each archetype under low carbon building design and operational strategies in the current and future climate. These scenarios will be co-created as a result of two-way communication with stakeholders from the government, public health bodies, the construction industry and school communities during extensive, structured workshops that form an integral part of the ASPIRE project.



By using the relationships established during the systematic analysis of existing field data and the modelled indoor air pollution and temperature exposure levels, we will evaluate the impacts of building energy efficient design and operational strategies, occupancy and climate change scenarios on educational attainment, and health costs at the national level.

This tremendously exciting new project will pave the way in understanding and improving the holistic performance of low carbon, healthy school buildings, and inform the development of effective policies and best practice school design guidance in close collaboration with our stakeholders.

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