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Michigan Program Looks to HVAC Contractors to Profile and Assess School Air Quality

Updated December 31, 2020

Michigan has decided its first step is to profile and assess school air quality to determine reopening readiness. Assessments are to be completed by licensed contractors associated with ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.  

After the assessment, the second step would be using a variety of state grants to upgrade these schools with indoor air quality and HVAC equipment. As it stands right now, there is $150,000 approved to use for Michigan’s K-12 Public School HVAC Assistance Program.  

“The whole purpose of the project, really, is to look at what is the state readiness for Michigan public schools to open, and what can be done to keep them open and keep students in those classrooms safe,” said Robert Jackson, the state energy ombudsman and an assistant division director in the EGLE, Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

Opportunities to Assess School Air Quality

There are 537 traditional public schools in the public school system, and if you include charter and intermediate school districts, there are nearly 900 schools. Every school will have different requirements to reopen.  Some may require an updated air filtration system, while others may need a complete HVAC overhaul.  

The assessments by contractors in Michigan could and should lead to more work opportunities when funding becomes sourced and available.  The idea right now is to profile schools and get an idea of what is needed.  

The initial guidance from the EGLE is to ventilate by opening windows, improve filtration and use portable air purifiers.  While these guidelines are okay, they aren’t long term solutions. For example, the blistering weather in Michigan doesn’t allow for open windows in the winter. 

Long term solutions should be whole-building mechanical ventilation, purification and filtration systems to help schools prepare to safely reopen.  By implementing whole-building systems over portable units, there’s a slew of long-term reduction in costs, as well as an immediate and noticeable improvement in indoor air quality

HVAC contractors who assess school air quality should promote whole-building upgrades.  If you’re a contractor in Michigan and want to get involved in assessing school buildings in your area, click here to learn more.     

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