School buildings differ from other types of buildings because they are the places where children are educated and have the opportunity to learn how to become environmentally-aware citizens. Furthermore, studies of school buildings have shown that environmental comfort parameters can greatly affect the learning ambience, occupants’ health and productivity. The focus of the project was centered on providing an optimized learning environment at an affordable cost while advancing sustainable design principles.
However, in developing countries, many of the recent developments in ensuring high performance and quality in the school environment have not been applied to the design process of schools. The evaluation procedures are the missing link towards sustainability in school design. In most of these developing countries, the quality of school building design is performed in traditional ways, which lack important analysis phases. It depends mainly on trial and error and professional knowledge and practice.
In Palestine, which suffers from a shortage of natural resources, particularly energy, the environmental comfort conditions are not considered as a starting point in the design process of these new buildings. This leads unfortunately to threat the indoor comfort level and to increase energy consumption by this building sector.
In order to address these issues, an investigation for the environmental comfort parameters, based on subjective and objective approaches, of existing school buildings in two different climatic zones of Palestine: Nablus and Jericho was carried out. Four aspects of comfort were considered: thermal, visual, acoustical and functional. The comfort requirements importance is determined based on students’ point view. Moreover, students’ satisfaction about the comfort parameters in their classrooms were determined in function to the schools’ layout and their geographic location.
The results show that temperature, odours and noise are perceived as the most influential parameters on the classroom comfort. Moreover, a cross correlation between subjective assessment and objective measures approaches show a consistency in the obtained results. Although maximization of various aspects of comfort simultaneously could be impossible, but compromise solutions could be found. Hence, further studies addressing sustainable techniques for each climatic zone and related to natural ventilation, thermal and acoustical comfort in classroom are indispensable.