Retrofitting America’s Schools
During the past year, we have learned that indoor air quality (IAQ), especially ventilation, has a high impact on our ability to control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This has put a spotlight on the country's school systems, many of which are long overdue for an upgrade and need proper ventilation to create the healthiest environment possible for students.
The good news is that the federal government has appropriated $176.3 billion to help K-12 schools (called Local Education Agencies or LEAs in the legislation) improve conditions in their facilities as children go back to in-person learning. Some of these funds, specifically in the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund, may be available to help finance ESCO projects in K-12 schools, which is a tremendous opportunity for schools to make these critical upgrades.
However, there are misconceptions regarding whether ESSER funds can be used for building renovation, including retrofits such as ventilation upgrades. Without clearer guidance from SEAs and LEAs, school systems nationwide could be missing out on funding to support these critical upgrades for their attendant occupant wellbeing and long-term budget savings.
Let's clear things up.