Federal stimulus plans passed in 2020 and 2021 allocated almost $260 billion for the use of public and private K-12 school districts. These funds are being dispersed through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Programs and can be used for any project that supports in-person instruction — including HVAC system upgrades that boost the safety of learning environments. According to Congress.gov, approved projects for ESSER funding would include:
“inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement.”
In other words, this is the ideal time to take advantage of free money from ESSER funding to overhaul your school’s HVAC system. Here are a few key improvements to target early for maximum impact:
Ventilation systems are a cornerstone of good indoor air quality. You can get more from your existing ventilation equipment by upgrading it with sensors that improve airflow monitoring, show indoor vs. outdoor pressure differentials, and offer instant proof of flow (for responsive maintenance).
ASHRAE recommends that your ventilation system allows for at least 15 cubic feet per minute (CFM) per person of air ventilation. This level is sufficient in classrooms, libraries, and other common areas, but densely packed and high traffic areas like cafeterias may need even more. Even if your system is adequate for this level of flow, it may be increasing your costs if you’re over ventilating beyond your needs, and it could be failing to meet the demands of good IAQ if you’re not monitoring results.
Wall-mounted air quality sensors serve an important role in optimizing your HVAC system. First of all, a truly responsive HVAC system needs smart detection of indoor air quality. IAQ sensors can detect and help protect students from mold, radon, secondhand smoke, asthma triggers, diesel exhaust from buses, the effects of art/science supplies, stuffy air in portable classrooms, and other risk factors.
Too much CO2 can also lead to drowsiness and headaches among faculty and students alike. Keep a close eye with all-in-one sensor platforms like the CW2 from Veris. Many school districts are now passing regulations requiring a CO2 sensor and independent DCV for each room. Read more about CO2 sensors in classrooms here.
Duct-mounted and wall-mounted temperature and humidity monitors play an important role in triggering HVAC systems in response to poor environmental conditions. The days of setting blind full-building schedules are behind us. While a set schedule can certainly help to conserve energy and keep learning environments comfortable at peak hours, they’re not responsive to fluctuating circumstances. Each season and even each day will bring a unique combination of room occupancy, outside temperatures, humidity and precipitation that must inform your HVAC controls.
A dry differential pressure transducer like the PX3 Series transducer from Veris makes it easy to track duct static pressure, building or room pressure, and airflow for comparison with outside air pressure. A clear view of differential pressure helps you to optimize ventilation for the season, weather, and comfort of occupants.
If you need further information on ESSER Funding or guidance in accessing the stimulus funds or planning HVAC system upgrades, Veris is here to help. You can also read more about these funds in this free resource. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or book a virtual meeting with a Veris expert to talk through these processes.