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Air Quality Monitoring in Colorado Schools

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Companies, school systems working to make buildings safer…

One of the aspects of our indoor environment that most impacts human health and wellness is air quality—a reality that has been even more sharply brought to our attention in recent years, given the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in smoke from wildfires all across the U.S. and Canada.

Providing schoolchildren with clean air is a top goal in green building. A recent report from the Center for Green Schools at USGBC found that the main obstacle for schools in using indoor air quality (IAQ) improvement measures is HVAC systems that have not been designed for today’s optimal strategies. Knowledge of technologies and standards for IAQ is not a given among decision-makers in school districts or individual schools. Funding can also be a significant issue, although with billions in grants available for schools through the passage of the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, the outlook is brighter for bringing our schools’ IAQ up to a passing grade.

Public-private partnerships can help. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Clean Air for Schools program gives portable, high-efficiency particulate air filters to K–12 schools to improve their IAQ. These are provided by Carrier West, the Colorado-based partner of Carrier Corporation.

In addition, the University of Colorado Boulder has recently partnered with certain K–12 schools in the state to provide IAQ monitoring systems at no cost for the first two years of use. Attune IOT received a federal grant to install the devices and software for IAQ monitoring. School staff will be given training in how to use and gather data from the devices.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, air sensor technology has improved in recent years, especially through making IAQ monitors smaller, more cost-effective and more widely available. Greater accessibility of IAQ data and analytics for consumers, builders and facilities management staff alike can bring cleaner air to everyone.

One of the top 10 states for LEED in 2022, Colorado has proven its commitment to green building and healthy indoor environments. That commitment extends to its green building requirements for schools receiving state funding through the BEST program for school construction. As technology evolves and infrastructure is upgraded, companies and school systems working together can go a long way toward making our children’s learning environments in the state healthier and safer.

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Author

  • Heather Benjamin

    Heather Benjamin is associate director of editorial content for USGBC and also manages USGBC+, the digital member magazine. She has spent the past 15 years in the field of publishing, editing, writing, and content strategy through both print and digital communications.

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