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Designing and Constructing Portable Classrooms for a Healthy School Environment

On this page:

Why It's Important

  • Portable classrooms can have the same common problems that interfere with student and teacher productivity in school buildings, such as: 
    • Poorly functioning HVAC systems that provide minimal outdoor air ventilation
    • Poor acoustics from loud ventilation systems
    • Chemicals emitting from pressed wood and other materials commonly used to build portable classrooms, especially since they are often occupied soon after construction
    • Water entry and mold growth
    • Site pollution from nearby parking lots or loading areas

What You Can Do

  • Follow the same standards in portable classrooms that you would in any school facility: 
    • Use appropriate building and indoor surface materials and properly designed ventilation systems to minimize the presence of indoor pollutants 
    • Maintain the quality of the indoor air environment through commissioning and regular maintenance  
  • EPA IAQ Design Tools for Schools provides some of the most important considerations specific to portable classroom design, commissioning and maintenance.


EPA and Federal Partners

  • The Portable Classrooms section of EPA's IAQ Design Tools for Schools addresses specifics for new portable classrooms, commissioning and operations and maintenance.

National Organizations

  • High Performance Relocatable Classrooms by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools offers rating criteria and provides tools for manufacturers, school districts and design teams to specify, build and acquire high performance relocatable classrooms.
  • Portable Classrooms: Resource List by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities offers an annotated list of links, books and journal articles on the use of portable and modular structures on school grounds, also called relocatables, trailers, modular units or demountables.
  • The Portables Toolkit by the Modular Building Institute helps school district purchasers, facility administrators and parents learn about securing and maintaining portable facilities that provide an optimum learning environment.

State and Local Entities