Evidence-Based Interactions between Indoor Environmental Factors andTheir Effects on K-12 Student Achievement

EPA Grant Number: R835633
Title: Evidence-Based Interactions between Indoor Environmental Factors andTheir Effects on K-12 Student Achievement
Investigators: Wang, Lily , Bovaird, James , Lau, Josephine , Waters, Clarence
Institution: University of Nebraska at Lincoln
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2018 (Extended to October 31, 2019)
Project Amount: $998,433
RFA: Healthy Schools: Environmental Factors, Children’s Health and Performance, and Sustainable Building Practices (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Health


The proposed research aims to establish how indoor environmental conditions in K-12 school buildings impact student scholastic achievement.  The objectives are: (1) to study comprehensively the impacts of a wide set of indoor environmental factors (including indoor air quality, thermal, lighting, and acoustic conditions) on student achievement; (2) to investigate how these conditions interact with each other to impact student achievement; (3) to rank order the environmental variables in terms of their relative impact on student achievement; and (4) to determine how these effects vary with different demographic (e.g. socio-economic) groups. 


There are four main research tasks to be completed towards accomplishing the objectives.  These tasks are: (1) to investigate how the built environment impacts student achievement by data-mining from publicly available databases on Academic Performance Index (API) scores from California schools that have received High Performance Incentive Grants, compared against other schools with similar demographics; (2) to conduct detailed indoor environmental measurements in classrooms at local Nebraska/Iowa school districts; (3) to statistically analyze the relationship between the measured conditions with classroom-aggregate student achievement data; and (4) to test the findings by studying how renovations of certain classroom environments confirm expected relationships between the built environmental conditions and student achievement.

Expected Results:

The research results will establish how the indoor air quality, thermal, lighting and acoustic conditions in K-12 school buildings interactively affect student achievement, determine the relative significance of each environmental variable, and reveal how student demographics may affect these results.  The project directly addresses the research needs identified in the solicitation by providing better understanding of how multiple aspects of the built environment impact student achievement, across a wide spectrum of classrooms and varying demographics.  Armed with such results, school districts with limited funds will be able to make more well-informed decisions on how to improve their infrastructure to most impact student achievement.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 19 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 4 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

indoor environmental quality, green buildings, high performance buildings, cost-benefit, architectural engineering, mixed linear models, midwest, Nebraska (NE), Iowa (IA);

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • 2018 Progress Report