WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released new guidance to help school districts protect IAQ while increasing energy efficiency during school renovations.

“This guidance provides common-sense solutions for improving energy efficiency and indoor air quality in schools across the country,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “By using these guidelines, school districts can cut their energy bills and help ensure that students have a healthy and safe learning environment.”

Both energy management and protection of IAQ are important considerations for school facility management during energy upgrades and retrofits, and schools can protect occupant health by addressing both goals holistically, said EPA. These renovation and construction activities can create dust, introduce new contaminants and contaminant pathways, create or aggravate moisture problems, and result in inadequate ventilation in occupied spaces. EPA’s Energy Savings Plus Health: Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for School Building Upgrades offers opportunities to prevent and control potentially harmful conditions during school renovations.

The practices outlined in the new guidance support schools as healthy, energy-efficient buildings that play a significant role in local communities, noted EPA. Nearly 55 million elementary and secondary students occupy U.S. schools, as well as 7 million teachers, faculty, and staff. In addition, many communities use school buildings after regular school hours as after-care facilities, recreation centers, meeting places, and emergency shelters during natural disasters.

The new guidance builds on EPA’s existing programs, such as Energy Star for schools and Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools, which helps schools identify, resolve, and prevent air quality problems, often with low- and no-cost measures.

To download the new guidance, visit www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/energy_savings_plus_health.html.

Publication date: 11/3/2014

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