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Thermal Comfort in Outdoor Classrooms

Communities around the world are re-opening after an extended period of ‘lockdown’ ordinances, business closures, working from home, and remote education, all intended to curb the exponential spread of COVID-19. As we enter this new phase of the global pandemic, we must strike a balance between maintaining social distancing protocols and restoring key parts of our communities. An idea gaining traction among governments, institutions, and businesses is bringing services outdoors to provide fresh air and reduce disease transmission compared to confined, mechanically ventilated indoor environments. An important factor limiting the feasibility or success of this strategy is whether people will be thermally comfortable in outdoor spaces. There are a variety of program types that are proposed to be outdoors — restaurants, bars, retail, K-12 and university classrooms.

Classroom settings, where occupants will be seated, performing tasks, will expect a more narrowly defined thermal comfort range. Student and teachers should be provided with a comfortable environment to ensure effective focus and learning. Atelier Ten’s Senior Environmental Designer, Anish Tilak, has developed a thermal comfort study to facilitate the success of this strategy primarily focusing on the use case of an outdoor classroom for the 2020 Fall Semester. The study offers recommendations for time of use and the effectiveness of shading in 6 sample climate zones — 5 in California and 1 in New York City.

Interested? Click the image below to read and download the full report.

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