SCOL’AIR project
City/Region : City of Lille , France

Anticipating the implementation of national regulations requiring French cities to check and improve air quality in establishments receiving young children, the city of Lille initiated the SCOL'AIR project in 2013.

This project is based on a cross-cutting approach that calls on the competence of many municipal services such as technical services for maintenance and works in public buildings, but also education and early childhood departments. Since 2013, many actions have been already put in place: awareness campaigns, training for teachers and staff members, installation of systems of measures for indoor air quality, works in school and nursery buildings.

Agendas addressed
Water resources and air qualityPublic space
Pathways followed
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement

According to the “Grenelle Environment Forum”, the fight against indoor air pollution has been neglected for too long and must be a new priority for the coming years.

The new national regulations of 2015 requires local and regional authorities as well as private schools to do one of two things: lead a campaign to measure air quality pollutants, or put in place an action plan to prevent the presence of pollutants in schools.

The City of Lille has chosen the first option - to improve its knowledge of air quality pollution factors enough to be able to remove them and to avoid their reappearance in schools, thanks to training teachers. The diagnosis, which aims to check the operation of the ventilation and ventilation means of the classrooms and the regular measurements are carried out by external providers.

In Action

1. Partners involved and project funding arrangements

This project was supported from its launch by the “Regional Health Authority” (ARS) to the amount of €100,000. Since the launch of the initiative, the city has invested more than €400,000 with the objective of improving air quality in schools and nurseries. This project is led by a group of eight public and private actors: the “Regional Health Authority”, the “Regional Directorate of Environment, Planning and Housing” (DREAL), The Region, The Regional Observatory for air quality (ATMO), the “Air Pollution Prevention Association” (APPA), the “Centre of studies and expertise on risks, environment, mobility and town planning” (CEREMA), the National Education Ministry and the City of Lille with the participation of municipal elected officials. Each year, these actors gather around the table to assess the past actions and identify new objectives for the year.

2. The main objectives

1) Produce an inventory of indoor air quality in schools, to adapt recommendations for good practices and;
2) Training school sector actors to ensure the sustainability of actions to promote good air quality.

3. Examples of actions taken

- Knowledge Development

One of the first goals concerns the development of knowledge on indoor air quality at sensitive sites (nurseries, nursery schools and primary schools).

- Awareness

The second objective is the awareness of the staff and the elected officials. Municipal agents who are concerned are the technical services, the staff of nurseries and the animators.

- Measuring to improve our air quality knowledge

The city of Lille has initiated a research agreement in order to study in particular 3 schools which each have its own characteristics: the first school is located near a road with dense traffic, the second school is located close to industry and the third school is located close to downtown urban activities.

The objective of this project is to analyse both indoor and outdoor measurements of air quality and acoustic parameters in schools over two seasons (summer and winter).

- Public procurement

The city is developing a preventive approach by including in public procurement the issue of air quality, particularly in the choice of furniture, paints and maintenance products.


1. Results of measurement campaigns

The measurement campaigns cover 4 pollutants: formaldehyde, benzene, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon dioxide. All pollutants are checked inside buildings, nitrogen dioxide and benzene are also measured outside. All the data collected during the measurement campaigns were put into perspective with the national results coming from a study conducted in French schools between 2013 and 2017. In comparison, the results for the city of Lille are better for all pollutants, except for nitrogen dioxide.

2. Results on staff awareness and behaviour

The “Air Pollution Prevention Association” (APPA) has been asked to train, raise awareness and evaluate school maintenance staff (municipal officers and external providers) as well as the specialised territorial agents for nursery schools (called “ATSEM”). The City of Lille has developed explanatory sheets and implements a cleaning protocol related to air quality protection.

Since the launch of the project, more than 530 persons have been sensitized.


Socio-economic impacts expected at the local level

The expected impacts of this project are to improve our knowledge on air pollutants for the purposes of research and, above all, the aim is to protect people from its negative effects on health. The measurable improvement of indoor air quality in public buildings has social consideration regarding the fact that the project is mainly taking into account one of the most vulnerable populations of the city (the children) but it has also strong environmental impacts in the struggle against climate change. Indoor and outdoor air quality are instead unquestionably linked.

The City wants to finalize the chemical pollutant measurement campaigns by the end of 2019. Since 2014, nurseries and schools of the municipality have benefited from works, awareness raising and identification of sources of pollutants, especially when the “Indoor Air Quality Guide Value” was outdated.

Thanks to these measures, the municipality has been able to adapt and change the behaviour of its staff and its own choices in public procurement. By integrating air quality considerations into the construction of new schools, including consideration of ventilation system and building materials, the municipality can protect the young children from a bad air quality in public buildings and raise awareness among the parents. A repository composed of best practices has been set up and distributed to all schools of the territory.

Challenges and lessons learned

One of the major lessons raised by the project is the awareness that implementation of good practices take time to be integrated by the staff in the long run.

In nurseries and schools, which do not employ municipal staff to maintain premises and systems, the large turnover of external providers' staff makes it difficult for them to become aware of good practices. Overall, the studies revealed that some of the staff behaviors have to evolve in terms of product storage or use. The classrooms are often not sufficiently ventilated by the teachers, especially during winter time, or are at inadequate hours.



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