Public health experts and air quality specialists say effective ventilation systems are essential to improve indoor air quality and help reduce COVID-19 transmission

Schools are getting creative as they strive to improve indoor air quality


Public health experts and air quality specialists say effective ventilation systems are essential to improve indoor air quality and help reduce COVID-19 transmission

After shouldering responsibilities for keeping students and staff safe and healthy in a global pandemic – you may have felt the weight of the world on your shoulders for the past several months or still feeling this with expectations for next year.

The changes and demands of the past year are a lot for school administrators – and their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems – to handle. As we are hearing from public health experts and air quality specialists, effective ventilation systems are essential to help reduce the transmission of the COVID-19 virus or any other airborne illness in public facilities, from office buildings and restaurants to schools.

In his book Healthy Buildings, author Joseph G. Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program and associate professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, concludes that up to 90 percent of schools in the U.S. are not meeting the minimum ventilation standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

But modern and effective ventilation systems are not the reality for many of our schools. About 41 percent of school districts need new or updated HVAC systems in at least half of their schools, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office estimate.

Installing a new HVAC system is a significant capital expense, usually requiring additional funding through local governments. Local budgets are already stretched to the limit from economic challenges brought about by COVID-19. But now, with American Rescue Plan funds becoming available for building improvements including better ventilation, relatively affordable solutions are available which quantitatively improve indoor air quality.

A simpler solution: ceiling retrofits

Now there may be a simpler way to limit the airborne spread of infectious viruses inside buildings from offices to hospitals and schools – with a relatively simple, easy-to-install ceiling retrofit offering.

As school facility managers and indoor air quality specialists are discovering, a new ceiling system developed by a leading manufacturer offers a practical way to improve indoor air quality by blocking air from leaking through the ceiling plane and redirecting it to where it is intended to flow and can be filtered. This is accomplished through the use of uniquely designed and gasketed ceiling panels that drop into an existing ceiling grid system found in many school buildings. 

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