Healthy Schools

East Central College HVAC Upgrade Covered by COVID Relief Funds

A $1.4 million HVAC upgrade at Missouri's East Central College, paid for by federal COVID-relief funds, is expected to mitigate the transmission of viruses in several campus buildings. The work was approved in June 2021 and completed for fall opening. The work was performed by Johnson Controls as part of its "OpenBlue" healthy buildings program.

The scope of project included a heat pump replacement, new ultraviolet lamps, new duct work and ventilation upgrades and variable air volume (VAV) box replacement in three buildings on campus. According to campus officials, the ultraviolet lamps, bulbs and components "can disinfect airstreams and continuously clean surfaces of cooling units and drain pans for maintaining indoor air quality and comfort performance."

As President John Bauer noted in a news story, "The developed clean air solutions from Johnson Controls help to decrease the risk of infection and create a safer, healthier environment."

This isn't the first time the college has worked with the company. In 2019, Johnson Controls replaced heating and air conditioning units in three buildings, including the student center and a training center. Before that, the company has done lighting upgrades, water fixture upgrades and other building improvements.

Johnson Controls said that it has undertaken nearly 900 upgrade projects in institutions of higher education in time for their fall re-openings.

The OpenBlue initiative was launched by Johnson Controls in August 2020 as a suite of digital solutions intended to make shared spaces safer as people returned to shared physical spaces. The program can include a combination of hardware, software and services to address:

  • Contact tracing;
  • Social distance monitoring;
  • Thermal cameras for checking potential fever conditions;
  • Scenario planning for physical interactions;
  • Infection control through HVAC and disinfecting lighting;
  • Mapping and monitoring of space usage; and
  • A mobile app for getting and giving updates on shared spaces and changes to policies.

"Now is the time for educators to invest in indoor air quality and move into the future of healthy living, sustainability and learning," said Jaime Paris Boisvert, Johnson Controls director for the higher education market, in a press release. "We know healthy campus environments have a direct positive influence on student achievement and wellness. Now, campuses must also address short-term COVID-19 needs along with those long-term health goals. We're honored to work on so many forward-looking projects that will optimize the campus experience for years to come. Because while infrastructure has always played a significant public health role, upgrades shouldn't begin and end with COVID-19."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.