Environmental Protection and Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a critically important aspect of creating and maintaining school facilities. IAQ Design Tools for Schools provides both detailed guidance as well as links to other information resources to help design new schools as well as repair, renovate and maintain existing facilities.
Though its primary focus is on indoor air quality, it is also intended to encourage school districts to embrace the concept of designing High Performance Schools, an integrated, "whole building" approach to addressing a myriad of important, and sometimes competing, priorities, such as energy efficiency, indoor air quality, day-lighting, materials efficiency, and safety, and doing so in the context of tight budgets and limited staff. This web-based resource contains recommendations and tools to help communities and design professionals integrate good indoor air quality practices into the design, construction, renovation, and operation and maintenance of K-12 school facilities.
Practical, cost-effective actions ranging from walk-off entry mats to advanced ventilation systems can reduce contaminants in schools and help protect the health of children and staff.
Air Quality Resources
These resources provide information about asbestos, indoor air quality, radon, asthma, allergies, mold, sick building syndrome, children's health protection, protecting the environment through energy efficiencies, underground storage tanks, and waste management.
- Air Quality: Asbestos
- Indoor Air Quality Association
- Asbestos in Schools: What You Should Know
- Asbestos: Permits and Licenses
- Asthma and Allergies
- Energy Star for K-12 Schools
- Environmental Health at the Center for Disease Control
- EPA Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources
- Legislative Guide to Energy Efficient Programs
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
School facilities maintenance affects the physical, educational, and financial foundation of the school organization and should, therefore, be a focus of both its day-to-day operations and long-range management priorities. As America's school buildings age, we face the growing challenge of maintaining school facilities at a level that enables our teachers to meet the needs of 21st century learners.
While the construction of new school facilities supports this task, many older buildings have developed modularly over time. A 1920s-era school may have gotten an addition in 1950, which in turn got an addition in 1970, and yet another addition in 1990. The task of caring for these old school buildings, some of which are historically or architecturally significant, at a level that supports contemporary instructional practices is substantial. At the same time, maintaining the finely tuned workings of new, more technologically advanced facilities also demands considerable expertise and commitment.
Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that facilities issues arise at all educational levels, pre-kindergarten through post-secondary, and all sites, both school buildings and administrative offices alike. Challenges arise in both new and old facilities, although the types of concerns may differ. For example, even a brand-new building may have problems with inadequate air circulation, which can lead to indoor air quality (IAQ) problems unless remedied. Older buildings, on the other hand, more frequently face age-related issues such as inefficient energy systems that can lead to uncomfortable indoor climate and high utility bills.
A sound facilities maintenance plan serves as evidence that school facilities are, and will be, cared for appropriately. On the other hand, negligent facilities maintenance planning can cause real problems. Large capital investment can be squandered when buildings and equipment deteriorate or warranties become invalidated. Failing to maintain school facilities adequately also discourages future public investment in the education system.
- Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities
- Save a Penny, Lose a School: Cost of Deferred Maintenance