Seasonal changes are a part of life. But just because the air outdoors is constantly in flux doesn’t mean the air we breathe indoors should be changing all the time, too. On the contrary, we want any shelter to keep us safe and comfortable no matter what may happen outside. If a building is too cold, hot, humid, dry, or riddled with pollutants, its occupants will be less safe, less happy, and less productive. Maintaining steady, healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) is especially important in schools where student health, performance, enrollment, and retention are at stake (not to mention the health and safety of teachers and staff as well). Schools without a solid indoor climate control plan also stand to waste significant energy throughout the seasons as outdoor variables are allowed to have a bigger impact on IAQ.
For all these reasons, educational facility managers must prioritize IAQ improvement and maintenance year-round. But as the seasons change, adjusting IAQ measures accordingly can become a costly challenge. Here we’ll explore some of the best ways to ensure optimal IAQ despite the seasonal changes surrounding your school.
The more facility management can prepare for what seasonal changes may bring to your school, the better. Different regions exhibit different seasonal weather patterns, so it’s important to keep your region’s unique history in mind, relying both on personal experience and research. If, for instance, you live in an area that experiences harsh winters that come on quickly, you’ll want to make sure your school is prepared to shift from minimal HVAC energy output to significant heating for the months ahead. It’s crucial to ensure that all HVAC and IAQ components are functioning properly well before you need to increase their usage or adjust their settings – otherwise, you might need to temporarily shut down the school to keep occupants safe. Fortunately, many modern indoor air systems are programmable, making it easy to automate tasks and optimize energy output when outdoor conditions are in flux. What’s most important is getting your IAQ components primed for the upcoming seasonal changes, so everyone remains seamlessly safe and comfortable through it all.
Unlike many commercial and industrial facilities, educational facilities often have the advantage of lengthy breaks where buildings are largely or entirely unoccupied. These temporary shutdowns offer the perfect opportunities for more extensive building maintenance projects, including HVAC repairs and IAQ adjustments. Additionally, most of these breaks take place during winter and summer, when temperatures are at their lowest and highest, respectively. These extreme conditions provide a useful stress test for IAQ calibration, allowing experts to witness a system’s strengths and weaknesses so proper repairs and adjustments can be made.
The actual quality of a facility’s indoor air is impossible to calculate without thorough monitoring. Sure, the prominence of occupant illness, complaints, and lack of productivity may point to an IAQ issue, but these signs alone won’t provide specifics. Indoor air quality monitoring devices are able to detect and analyze multiple points of data from their surroundings in real time, including particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), CO, CO2, temperature, relative humidity, and more. This ongoing monitoring is invaluable for facility maintenance, as it clearly indicates what’s wrong with the building’s air at a given point in time. As the seasons change around your school, your IAQ monitor may point out different issues, all of which must be immediately addressed to keep everyone inside safe and healthy. An IAQ expert can help you determine the best locations to install these monitors throughout your school.
Facility cleanliness and healthy indoor air quality are closely linked. Cleaner indoor air makes for less dust inside your building, helping to keep your school clean – conversely, clean surfaces release fewer contaminants into the air, keeping your indoor air clean. So, the more you keep up with building cleaning, the less you’ll have to worry about IAQ concerns (and vice versa). Of course, your school cleaning approach should reflect what’s happening seasonally. For instance, autumn tends to blow in plenty of leaves and debris; snow and salt get tracked in during winter; and pollen seems to get everywhere in spring. Make sure your cleaning staff is equipped with the necessary knowledge, training, and equipment to handle all of these seasonal cleaning concerns along with those that affect your school year-round. In doing so, you’ll contribute to cleaner indoor air overall.
With so many variables at play affecting your school’s indoor air quality, a comprehensive IAQ program is an extremely valuable investment for your educational facility. The Budd Group has developed the BreatheWell Program, a multi-faceted air purification protocol that combines state-of-the-art IAQ monitoring with air purification technology to improve, optimize, and manage the quality of air within facilities. Tools such as HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters (that capture 99.7% of particles 0.3 microns and larger in size, including those carrying SARS-CoV-2) and negative ion air filtration (which traps allergens, dust, and other hazards) provide cleaner air for our clients – including several schools. Installing these systems in your classrooms and other active spaces will help you maintain clean air, reduce energy output, and improve educational outcomes through all seasons.
The seasons may change every few months, but your school’s indoor air quality should hold firm all year long, providing students, faculty, and staff with a comfortable and safe environment. With our wide range of comprehensive cleaning, maintenance, and indoor air improvement services, we at The Budd Group are prepared to level up your school’s IAQ game this season and beyond. To learn more about this program and our wide range of services, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!
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