Environmental Psychology The Build Environment (Classrooms)
The Built Environment
Presented By: Pietro Solda,
Lindsay Askew, & Patricia
“You are a product of your environment. So choose the
environment that will best develop you toward your
objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment.
Are the things around you helping you toward success - or
are they holding you back?”
W. Clement Stone
• Effects of air quality and air movement.
• Consequences of high and low temperatures.
• Significance of noise levels.
• Effects of lighting and natural lighting.
• On average, most Canadians
spend about 90% of their time
indoors, including at home,
work, and for recreational
• Our air that we breathe
▫ Biological pollutants (ex.
Mould, bacteria, dust mites,
and allergens) and,
▫ Chemical pollutants (ex.
Building materials, cleaning
materials, or material
brought in from outside).
What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality?
Other Causes of Poor Air Quality
• There are also volatile gases that can
be harmful, most prominently are
Radon, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and
Carbon Monoxide (CO).
• CO2 levels outdoors are usually
around 350 ppm (parts per million).
• An adult human produces between
35,000 and 50,000 ppm of CO2 with
• The safe standard for a classroom is
below 1000 ppm.
• A lack of ventilation severely
compromises the quality of air we
breathe in these environments.
Poor Air Quality Symptoms
• This poor air quality and
stagnant air can lead to
congestion, fatigue, and for
some individuals can
aggravate asthma and
• More prolonged symptoms can
develop over time, including
coughing, wheezing, and a
disorder called Sick Building
• A lot of newer homes and
buildings are built to conserve
energy, and keep everything
locked up tight, this does not
allow contaminates to escape.
• Most air in buildings is re-
circulated to reduce energy
costs as well.
• The lack of air can also create
a stagnant and stuffy
environment, and can
especially lead to odours
Construction of Buildings
• Proper air circulation
drastically increases the
quality of the air, and there are
generally two techniques to
filter the air:
▫ Spot Ventilation: Which
removes air from a particular
area (ex. Bathrooms and
kitchens are most common).
▫ Dilution Ventilation: Affects
the entire room, and replaces
the air from inside with the
air from outside.
Construction of Buildings Cont’d.
Act and Code
• Over the years, poor indoor air
quality hasn’t received as
much attention as it probably
• The Canadian Environmental
Protection Act has provided
some regulations on biological
• The B.C. Building Code
requires that buildings
introduce fresh air and
exhaust stale and moist air.
• The most common
requirements are the
installation of an:
▫ Exhaust fan or a central
ventilation system, and
▫ Heat Recovery Ventilation
Hot & Cold
• Temperatures that are too hot
or too cold to learn in are not
• Too cold temperature inhibits
attention while too warm
temperature lowers arousal
and can worsen sick building
syndrome symptoms, as well
as have a negative effect on
What is The Right Temperatures
• Temperatures above 22º C or
below 20º C are considered to be
too hot or too cold to work in
▫ Relative humidity is best at 50%
• care must be taken to balance
natural ventilation methods i.e.
those provided by windows and
▫ give overview of Wargocki &
Wyon study as well as
Earthman paper for an example
of effects of temperature on
• Noise defined as unwanted
• Extremely high levels of noise
can cause hearing damage
(Occupational Health and
• Moderate levels of noise
interfere with effectiveness
and ease of communication
Noise & Levels
• Students learn best when the noise
level is at approximately 40 db, any
higher and they become tense.
• Classroom chatter has a negative
effect on the completion of verbal
tasks, and environmental noise
accompanied by classroom babble
has a negative effect on the speed at
which one processes information.
(Dockrell & Shield)
• Noise level also impacts recall and
Presented By: Pietro Solda
“Light profoundly affects our
feelings of well-being, of awe
and wonder of mood, of
comfort, of motivation.”
Light & Depression
• Depression is one of the most
problems affecting people
around the world.
• Diagnosed depression was
associated with a 0.49
point, or half a letter
grade, decrease in student
GPA (Hysenbegasi, Hass, &
Rowlan, 2005, p. 145).
Light & Depression Cont.
• Research that indicates that
low levels of exposure to
natural light may negatively
interact with individual
• There are a number of different
treatment options, including
light therapy, which involves the
individual being exposed to
bright light for up to two hours
• This therapy shows that light
has an impact on our
Light & Depression Cont.
• Children situated in a
classroom which lack both
natural and fluorescent
daylight tubes show less
seasonal variation in stress
• Student in classrooms with
strong non-full spectrum
lighting have an increased
levels of metabolic hormones
that are liked to stress.
(Wellhousen & Crowther, 2004). Stress Hormones Impair Memory
Light and Concentration
• Brightness provided by light
sources, reduces the feeling of
perceived crowding in rooms,
which in turn should be
performance (Bell, Greene, Fisher, &
• The use of indoor lighting has
demonstrated that rooms with
colour temperature lighting
have enhanced long-term
tasks and free recall (Knez, 1995).
Which colour light do think will
reduce arousal in individuals with
Blue Pink Yellow
Light & Behaviour
• Dim rooms have been show to
increase unacceptable social
behaviour, such as
dishonesty, and selfish
behaviour, which make
individuals more likely to lie or
cheat compared with
participants in well-lit rooms
• Introducing a pink light into a
room will reduce arousal in
individuals with behaviour
problems and on emotionally
disturbed persons (Cassidy, 1997)
• Based on research, the quality of air we are breathing in indoor
environments can negatively impact both our short and long term
health. Lack of ventilation and poor removal of harmful
particulates can lead to health problems in a University classroom
• Working in temperatures that go above or below comfort level, and
in a noisy situation that exceeds the recommended decibel
level, impairs our concentration which can lead to a myriad of other
• Lights should be replaced with light sources that are both ‘warm
white’ and ‘cool white’ to help student feel more positive about their
learning environment and to further prevent problematic
• Bechtel, R. B., & Ts'erts'man, A. (2002). Handbook of Environmental Psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
• Bell, P. A., Greene, T. C., Fisher, J. D., & Baum, A. (2001). Environmental Psychology (5th ed.). Orlando: Harcourt College
• Dockrell, J.E., and Shield, B.M. (2006). Acoustical barriers in classrooms: The Impact of Noise on Performance in the
classroom. British Educational Research Journal, 32, 509-525.
• Hygge, S. (2003). Classroom experiments on the effects of different noise sources and sound levels on long-term recall and
recognition in children. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 17, 895-914.
• Hysenbegasi, A., Hass, S. L., & Rowlan, C. R. (2005). The Impact of Depression on the Academic. Productivity of University
Students. The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, 8(3), 145-151.
• Jones, A.P. 2002. Chapter 3 Indoor air quality and health. Developments in Environmental Sciences, 57-115.
• Kosonen. R., & Tan, F. 2004. The effect of perceived indoor air quality on productivity loss. REHVA Scientific, 981-986.
• Kuller, R., & Lindsten, C. (1992). Health and Behavior of Children in Classrooms With and Without Windows. Journal of
Environmental Psychology, 12(4), 305-317.
• Wargocki, P., and Wyon, D.P. (2007). The Effects of Moderately Raised Classroom Temperatures and Classroom Ventilation
rate on the performance of schoolwork by children. HVAC&R Research, 13, 193-220.