Indoor Air Quality

Three Organizations Partner to Help K–12 Schools Assess Indoor Air Quality

Johnson Controls announced this week that it is contributing its OpenBlue Healthy Buildings portfolio to a pre-existing partnership between two science and safety organizations. UL and SafeTraces joined forces in March 2021 to begin evaluating the effectiveness of indoor air quality and HVAC systems, as well as infection control strategies, in K–12 schools. The three companies will use science-based indoor air quality and infection risk assessments to evaluate mechanical systems’ effectiveness in schools.

The program will allow school administrators to use science-based performance data to confirm that schools meet indoor air quality standards and establish safe environments for teachers and students. Administrators will also be able to collaborate with Johnson Controls to target gaps in their systems; schools can then use data from UL and SafeTraces as a guide to create a plan for a long-term clean air strategy. These third-party, data-driven air quality assessments will allow schools to improve student and faculty health as well as build public trust and confidence.

“Education authorities, like many of us, are aware of and more responsive to the critical need to ensure healthy school buildings. But there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy because school districts and the buildings they run are not homogenous,” said Nate Manning, Johnson Controls’ President of Building Solutions North America. “Science-based data ꟷ from air quality and risk assessments to building connected technology solutions ꟷ will drive each component of this program, which will bring peace of mind to students, teachers, and families as schools reopen.”

Johnson Controls’ OpenBlue Schools solution provides a full suite of connected solutions for sustainability, safety and security across a full building’s entire lifecycle. UL’s Healthy Buildings program offers indoor environmental quality, energy and sustainability services, particularly comprehensive data reviews, HVAC system inspections, air quality testing and ventilation assessments, exhaust system verification and more. SafeTraces offers an aerosol-based solution to evaluate HVAC system performance using DNA-tagged bioaerosol tracers that simulate airborne pathogen mobility and exposure.

“K-12 administrators and their facility managers are held to the highest standards of safety and rapidly evolving health regulation like never before. Through UL’s Healthy Building program, we have learned how the facility leaders who manage what they measure have far greater success managing risk than those who only address issues as they arise,” said Sean McCrady, director in UL’s Assets and Sustainability Performance, Real Estate and Properties group. “Not only will we equip K-12 administrators with independent evidence of the efficacy of their systems, but we can also now give them guidance to enhance their building operations into the future.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].

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