Across California’s public schools, new and old HVAC systems have chronic ventilation issues that must be addressed. And the solution is also the problem, which makes it difficult. California public schools upgrade ventilation and HVAC systems through funding to assess, retrofit or completely overhaul the systems. Said funding comes from local bonds. Improving ventilation is proving to be an expensive task, and schools are demanding more funding to safely reopen.
“After roofing, it can be the most expensive project for a school,” says Joe Dixon, retired facilities chief for Santa Ana Unified School District and a consultant who helps school districts with facilities projects. “But ventilation is important. It keeps kids’ minds fresh, it keeps them healthy. It’s a big issue for any district.”
Aside from the pandemic, studies by UC Davis and the EPA have shown that a well-ventilated classroom has multiple benefits. Good IAQ reduces the spread of air pollutants, decreases student absenteeism, boosts health and improves a student’s academic achievement rates.
Glad to see California leading the way, with $$ to improve IAQ & ventilation during #covid19 @CorsIAQ @j_g_allen @linseymarr @ShellyMBoulder To safely reopen schools, indoor air quality and ventilation are a priority https://t.co/s13S1sM4Al @phylogenomics @Wymelenberg— Paula Olsiewski (@polsiewski) November 13, 2020
Edsource.org reports that some districts have been able to upgrade their ventilation systems using bond funds, with a hope that in 2022, Legislature will place a multi-billion dollar bond on the state ballot for additional funding. Another hope is that President-elect Joe Biden will push for legislation to sufficiently cover the costs associated with regular HVAC inspections and maintenance to keep systems in good condition.
Sources of Funding for School Ventilation Upgrades
Funding like this is never guaranteed, but it seems to be heading in that direction. Across the United States, school districts are diverting more funds for public schools to upgrade ventilation. Schools are using some of the $2 trillion of the CARES package, passed in March, to upgrade or improve parts of their ventilation system. Assembly Bill 841 has made districts across California hopeful that $600 million is set aside for public schools’ HVAC systems.
Costs Beyond Schools HVAC Ventilation Upgrades
Many schools are learning about the extra costs associated with installing a new HVAC system for improved ventilation. It’s not a simple plug and play. Necessary updated electrical systems, new roofing and asbestos removal are tacking on significant costs.
“Unless you already have a newer school, it’s never just the HVAC,” said Julie Boesch, superintendent of the Maple Elementary District in Shafter, California, a city in central Kern County. “Upgrading the HVAC [system] triggers all these other issues, which can be very expensive.”
This alone is making school districts deep-dive into a cost-benefit analysis for each school campus. And in some cases, they are determining whether an HVAC system overhaul or a brand new school building is most feasible.
The Demand for HVAC and IAQ Experts in California
The growing demand across 10,000 public schools in California doesn’t end with installing HVAC systems in old and new buildings. There are also assessments, regular maintenance and other upgrades to budget for to keep students and staff safe in schools.
Important Resource for industry contractors, businesses, etc. 🙌— IAQ Works (@IaqWorks) January 10, 2021
IAQ upgrades, awareness and regular HVAC maintenance is necessary to keep students, teachers and staff safe at schools. https://t.co/JEvh0jER2X
Conversations around improving ventilation in public schools, coupled with IAQ and HVAC concerns from parents and teachers, are growing daily. Discussion is increasing in the news and on social media alike. Funding for school districts across the nation is only going to rise in the next year. Start offering IAQ at your business today.