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Less Ideal Learning Environments: Elevated Levels of CO2

The Mass Media released a recent article that analyzes safety in learning environments. A recent study has been made in Oxford Brookes University in Wheatley Campus, where it has been discovered elevated levels of CO2. Elizabeth Sweet, a professor in the anthropology department, revealed that the project initiated after the pandemic, with the increasing need of improving health measures.

According to Elizabeth Sweet, coming back to the campus was a reality, and the easiest way to start taking measures that ensure safety was to start monitoring and checking CO2 levels in labs, offices and other spaces that were being used. The main concern as a result of her research was that several classrooms that her team tested there “had CO2 levels that during classes—especially if the door was closed”, the levels were high, (1,300, 1,400) or even higher, than what's considered acceptable.

In addition her team has been working on this data analysis to alert the staff of a classroom that seems like it has a high reading. Those monitoring and analysis can provide the university information on widespread issues, the air filters with MERV 13 air filters which were recommended during COVID-19 times and are up to the right standards with airflow in Wheatley in particular.

The researcher mentioned that this kind of monitoring could help to find out the cause of “poorer learning outcomes and potential symptoms like headaches and fatigue”. Elizabeth Sweet considers that the students and the faculty should not have to try to teach and learn in environments that are not ideal and that could be fixed.

“Our initial motivation for doing this monitoring was all about COVID-19 risk, so we tried to do some research into what's the relationship between CO2 and something like COVID-19 transmission in an indoor setting. MIT has some useful algorithms and things that they've put together in terms of trying to relate those two things, and from what we can tell—especially because the university did upgrade to these MERV 13 filters—it seems like the fact that everybody is wearing masks on campus and we have pretty good air filtration, that the COVID-19 transmission risk associated with even elevated CO2 levels in these rooms is probably quite low”.

At MKThink we are also looking at how learning environments can adapt to our evolving needs over time and how those spaces are designed considering factors such as wellbeing and safety. At Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, CA, we re organized the entire campus plan to be centered around "making and creativity" with a Maker's HUB, amphitheater and outdoor exploration area located at the center of the school.


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