The Federal Government, via the 2020 CARES Act, the 2020 CRRSA Act and 2021 ARP Act, gave K-12 publics schools a total of $189.5 billion dollars!
State Education Agencies were responsible for figuring out how to get that to the schools in their respective states.
What I have witnessed is that a large portion of these funds were budgeted for afterschool programs to help students catch up from the lackluster remote learning and dealing with the mental health of students that have been quarantined for a long period of time. All of this is critically important for our students and their future. The concern here is that ESSER Funds are not another source of revenue for schools, yet some schools have opted to use these funds to hire more staff, thus creating more annual expenses after the ESSER funds have been used up. Similarly, some funds were used to purchase equipment and technology not paying close attention to the annual recurring costs.
According to a September 8, 2021, article, the U.S. faces a projected shortfall of a staggering $85 billion in school facility funding every year, according to a new report from the 21st Century School Fund, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), and the National Council on School Facilities.
Where am I going with this?
When investing ESSER dollars, schools need to do their best to invest in assets that are going to add value to their buildings with as little additional recurring annual costs as possible. Unless the hiring is for an independent contractor that is coming in for a specific period for a specific job- trying to hire “permanent staff” with short term federal funds is not a good idea.
The same holds true for indoor air quality technology or equipment. A great example would be upgrading from a 30-year-old air handler to a new air handler. The newer units are more cost effective so the asset may help reduce some operating expenses- less energy and maintenance costs- while improving ventilation.
Following with this thought – the more you can get out of an asset, the better the investment. For example, if you have a typical 800 square foot classroom that has supplied air coming from an air handling unit, you have the option of purchasing Upper UV technology from $6,000 to $20,000 installed (for this one classroom) vs purchasing bipolar ionization technology (BPI) for less than $800. That is a very big difference in cost, but it gets even better. Upper UV does nothing to break down VOCs or reduce particles in the air. The right BPI breaks down VOCs, reduces particles by over 40% on average and inactivates and kills airborne pathogens in the same space where students are breathing out their germs as opposed to Upper UV that is trying to inactivate and kill mold spores and bacteria a few feet above the students. And – it gets even better. Upper UV only adds additional energy expenses and bulbs are expensive to replace, BPI that meets ASHRAE 62.1 IAQ Procedure can reduce operating cost by up to 30% per year and replacement costs as little as $80 every two years with no maintenance costs.
What is AHSRAE 62.1 IAQ Procedure and how does it reduce operating costs + Increase Indoor Air Quality?
Great question. Important to note that commercial building codes require a minimum of 20% outdoor air to enter the building. The more air you bring into a building, the more energy you use to bring the temperature of the outdoor air to indoor levels. The less air you bring in, the less energy you use. When looking to lower the outdoor air, the challenge is indoor air quality.
In response to this challenge, ASHRAE created the ASHRAE 62.1 Indoor Air Quality Procedure which is an engineered approach to required ventilation, rather than a prescriptive approach. If your technology can provide air quality as good or better than the prescriptive ventilation rate, you can reduce outside ventilation and save energy. AtmosAir technology has proved to be able to reduce outside ventilation by 50% or more, which can enable significant energy savings. Energy costs are rising sharply. Using this approach can provide for a clean, healthy, and efficient facility. By installing this kind of technology, you can reduce your energy costs by up to 30% or more.
As you may have predicted – AtmosAir meets ASHRAE 62.1 IAQ Procedure!
Here is the bottom line: If a school is using ESSER Funds, they should look to get the most value from each dollar invested. A technology that offers high efficacy with IAQ, little to no maintenance costs, possible reduction of energy costs by 30% or more and is a relatively low investment to start with is an investment worth making. And remember – our projects are 3rd party validated by an engineer.
Education Stabilization Fund
Click here to see the Educational Stabilization Fund website – basically how much ESSER Funds were distributed and how much has been used.