How Schools can Have it All: Save Money and Have Better Air Quality
Updated: Nov 13, 2021
Air quality is important on school campuses not just due to children with asthma, allergies, and other air irritants. Today, we have new and deadly viruses, viruses that mutate, and ones yet to be discovered. So, air quality is extremely important now more than ever.
Unfortunately, many schools have the bare minimum funds to keep their air quality safe and must resort to depending on air filters, HVAC systems, fans, and portable air purifiers.
With COVID, school administrators are depending on masks, contact lists, testing, and good hygiene. And on teachers and aides that are willing to enforce all the new rules.
But is that enough?
The Problem about Air Quality on School Campuses
According to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, it is estimated that one third of k–12 public schools need HVAC system updates, and more than half have multiple buildings that need system updates or replacements, including HVAC and plumbing. The need is especially pressing for high-poverty districts, which are more likely to rely on state funding to pay for improvements to school facilities and thus are disproportionately impacted by state-level budget cuts—first during the Great Recession and now during the COVID-19 crisis. Building maintenance often receives the largest cuts during budget reductions, meaning that, without targeted intervention, HVAC systems may be under-prioritized at every level. (Source: https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/blog/covid-hvac-systems-essential-resource)
Also, with global warming, schools are not only battling mold, allergens, air pollution and more, they are also beginning to battle smoke in the West and flooding in the East.
The latest guidelines suggest running the existing HVAC system (no longer on “auto” but on the “on” position) not only all day but also 2 hours before and after the school campus is shut down. This will result in an even higher power bill and stressing the existing HVAC possibly to the point of an early retirement and replacement.
According to a 2020 study, researchers at University of California, Davis and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that only 15% of the public school classrooms they studied met the state’s ventilation standard. That means that 85% of them are likely woefully under-ventilated – a staggering reality.
Bringing in a professional team that not only knows the ins and outs of HVAC and air purification systems but who also are educated on air flow patterns and the most recent studies on COVID is a must.
Doing an on-site review, their goal is to ensure the operations, facilities, and maintenance teams can easily monitor and maintain system improvements, delivering higher indoor air quality and occupant safety. The review would then be forwarded to the school board and recommendations would be given.
Is it Worth the Money? Yes!
It actually saves money.
Consider how much electric bills will rise if systems run all day. What about closing down a school campus and having to bring in professional cleaners? What if it is decided due to schools closing off and on due to COVD rises that schools must offer summer school sessions to all students? How much will it cost to replace that HVAC before the budget calls for it?
Cleaner air means lower utility bills, fewer absences (which increases daily attendance funds from the state), less disruption and peace of mind to staff, students, and parents.
Thankfully, several states like California are offering money to schools to update their systems. California lawmakers are choosing to help fix this problem rather than downplay it. Assembly Bill 841 (Ting, Chapter 372, Statutes 2020) established the School Reopening Ventilation and Energy Efficiency Verification and Repair Program (SRVEVR), which will provide up to $600 million for energy upgrades and to test, adjust and repair heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) systems in schools.
With over 10,000 schools in California, it is not a guarantee that every school will get the necessary funds so it will fall on the school administrators and school boards to make sure that they make the right decisions when it comes to state funding and their budgets.
Having a professional team come into the schools and do an assessment will help them make the best decisions for them, their staff, and their students.
LifeWingsPP specializes in studying school campuses and providing knowledgeable assessments to aid school boards in reaching the highest level of protection for their students and staff. It defeats the invisible enemy and creates free breathing zones in buildings, reducing anxiety and allowing teachers to teach without fear.