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How HVAC Contractors Can Help Create Healthier School Buildings

Updated August 16, 2021

The start of the 2021-2022 school year is here. Many HVAC contractors and experts experienced firsthand the increased demand for IAQ solutions and HVAC upgrades caused by the pandemic. If you’re a commercial contractor, you’ve likely worked with schools sometime in the past year. And if you’re a residential contractor, perhaps you’ve dipped into the commercial side due to COVID, or maybe customers had questions about their child’s school’s air quality. Whatever the case, schools, teachers, parents and students alike continue to rely on experienced HVAC contractors for improved school IAQ.

HVAC Contractors Helping Improve School IAQ

The reality is, schools across the country are still seeking HVAC and IAQ solutions in response to COVID. School administrator motivations range from wanting to provide the healthiest indoor learning environment possible to keeping good teacher-parent-community-school relationships to avoiding liability concerns. Whatever the reason, the demand is there.

School administrators and facility managers, as well as parents and teachers, have all heard a mix of different recommendations and building solutions over the past year. Some school districts might have chosen to skip IAQ upgrades and opt for natural ventilation or industrial cleaning. Others might want additional indoor air control strategies. Schools and school districts are looking for HVAC contractors with a high level of expertise, personalized recommendations and continued assistance to improve school IAQ and ensure healthy indoor air. Here are a few ways to set your business apart from the competition, really relate to your customer and personally help ensure healthier school buildings.

1. Offer Maintenance and Service Plans

A lot of schools made quick IAQ upgrades and HVAC system changes at the start of the pandemic. Some did so without a complete understanding of the necessary maintenance and upkeep required. Improving school IAQ of course goes beyond the initial install. For this reason, consider offering specialized school building maintenance and service plans.

2. Update Online Company Information to Include School IAQ Experience

School administrators are seeking expert resources and experienced workers. Simply taking the time to post about your previous experience working with other schools might just make all the difference. This can include social media posts and updating your company website. Also, consider asking previous school clients for an online review. Another school’s personal testimonial will help sell your company’s experience.

3. Explain How IAQ Upgrades are Cost-Effective

Tight school budgets and/or an overall lack of funding are common setbacks for HVAC upgrades. School administrators consider the initial cost, operating costs and maintenance costs, and are unable to move past the clear price increase. However, a true cost evaluation should also account for the long-term savings due to energy-efficient products, and less repair and replacement costs due to new system infrastructure.

In fact, an analysis of high performance schools found significant savings. A high performance school is a building that improves the learning environment while saving money and energy. Building and designing school buildings with high performance goals in mind can save districts 30–40% on yearly utility bills. Even for existing schools, renovating with high performance design principles results in an annual utility cost savings of roughly 20–30%. Those are significant savings both in the short-term and long-term.

On top of all the concrete financial savings you can point to, remember to touch on the health and performance benefits of good IAQ. It’s difficult to equate this to the previous cost benefits. The reality is healthier students and faculty leads to higher academic scores and success. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), high performance schools actually bring in more funding as the improved indoor environment increases student attendance rates and test scores.

4. Understand the Significance of Healthy School IAQ for Yourself

One of KGG’s top principles is making the switch from an indoor comfort mindset to a health and wellness mindset. Today, HVAC and IAQ actually help create healthier indoor spaces—as the priority. Your role as the HVAC contractor for schools is so much more than simply selling system upgrades. Good school building air quality has many benefits. Studies show higher test scores and improved academic performance, better student attendance rates, improved concentration and of course better health and wellness. A school’s indoor environment has a significant impact on student and teacher success. Helping create healthier school buildings can and should be truly rewarding. As the HVAC contractor, view school IAQ jobs as an opportunity to provide serious health and quality of life improvements in addition to a well-paying client.

5. Offer Specific Recommendations

Going into the job, you likely have ideas beforehand. Maybe you want to suggest the solution you personally wish more schools chose or what you wish your child’s school would’ve done IAQ-wise. Maybe as a member of the local community, you’re even aware of local school politics or what the popular parent vote is for HVAC system upgrades. It’s helpful to leave all assumptions behind.

Fully listen to what school administrators are saying to offer the most customized IAQ solution possible. Understand what facility managers are citing as overall air quality issues. Recommending a solution should go beyond short-term health and COVID concerns. Instead, account for the long-term benefits of good IAQ.

HVAC & IAQ Covid Solutions

HVAC contractors continue to have a real opportunity when it comes to school IAQ. School administration’s responsibility to improve building infrastructure during the pandemic is far from over. As the HVAC contractor, you can play a pivotal role in helping improve school IAQ.

Sara Romano

Sara Romano

Sara is KGG’s Associate Content Director and a part of KGG’s digital services team. A recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University, Sara joined KGG in 2020. She works as a writer, editor, and social media content creator for KGG. She is passionate about the importance of indoor air quality and environmental health.

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