Written by: Juan Malvestitti
The Cleaner Air for Schools (CAFS) program was born from a COVID-19 pandemic task-force, comprised of award-winning engineers and indoor air quality specialists. The key objective of this program was to develop a solution that could help schools increase airflow and improve indoor air quality without sacrificing their energy performance goals and greenhouse gas emissions reduction benchmarks.
Ontario schools have unquestionably had their share of ups and downs. From online learning, to student cohorts, the 2020/2021 school year proved to be a roller-coaster of new experiences. As parents and students adapted to a myriad of public health measures, including face-masks and social distancing, school facilities were faced with unprecedented operational challenges.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) put together an Epidemic Taskforce to provide guidance on mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission within schools. This guidance was formulated to help facility managers retrofit and plan for the improvement of indoor air quality and to slow the transmission of viruses via the HVAC systems, noting that the underlying effort should be to mitigate risk of airborne pathogen transmission through a combination of strategies, including increased ventilation, better filtration, improved air distribution, and the use of other air cleaning or treatment technologies.
The federal and provincial governments quickly responded with a COVID Resilience Infrastructure Stream (CVRIS) allowing the Ontario Ministry of Education to administer $685 million for education related projects.
“We are taking a major step forward by investing further in the safety of our schools, including action to improve air quality and renovate schools, so all students remain safe through this pandemic.”
said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, shortly after the funding announcement was made last November.
In order to align with ASHRAE’s guidance for increased ventilation, NERVA Energy an award-winning engineering firm in Stoney Creek Ontario, quickly set out to develop a tailor-made program for Ontario schools to increase ventilation without costly mechanical upgrades or building disruptions. The Cleaner Air for Schools program is a partnership between Nerva Energy, Mohawk College, and Climate Change Leaders.
“This program has been a vital resource for school boards to address mechanical inefficiencies, and under-serviced ductwork infrastructure which can lead to suboptimal airflow. To date, participating schools have been able to increase airflow by an average of 40%”
“We are honoured to receive the 2022 Clean50 Award for TOP PROJECT. This program is helping deliver better indoor air quality, improved HVAC efficiency and ongoing utility savings, at a time when schools need it most.”
said Tony Cupido, Research Chair, Ph.D., P.Eng., Sustainable Building Technologies at IDEAWORKS, Mohawk College
While every school building is different, the Cleaner Air for Schools program provides a comprehensive evaluation, remediation, and implementation process, allowing schools to maximize ventilation performance without replacing HVAC equipment or shutting down the facilities.
“The first few months of the pandemic we’re extremely challenging, with new information about the propagation of COVID-19 surfacing every day. We noticed there was a consistent message from industry experts calling for increased air volume and air exchange rates. We decided to conduct air volume testing in schools to quantify their performance and determine strategies to increase those numbers wherever possible.”
said Domenic Maniccia, Manager of Facility Services for Grand Erie District School Board, an active member of the Cleaner Air for Schools program.
The program was launched in March of 2020 and has since grown to serve more than 320 schools and 131,000 students & staff, positively impacting over 25 million square feet of educational space in Ontario.
“Our school board partners are achieving an average 25% increase in overall airflow, while some older, underserviced schools, are surpassing 50%. We have over 300 projects currently underway, and the results continue to exceed expectations.
We are honoured to receive this prestigious award. I would like to recognize the hard work and dedication of our entire team over the last 18 months.”
said Robert Hallewick, CEO of NERVA Energy
Joshua Lewis, is the Head of Engineering at NERVA Energy, and a member of the Cleaner Air for Schools taskforce. He is the recipient of the prestigious International Energy Innovator of the Year Award. With decades of industry experience, and numerous accolades, Josh is regarded as one of Canada’s top energy professionals.
“Upgrading mechanical equipment is not just a costly process, it’s a lengthy one. As energy advisors, we only recommend upgrading equipment if it has reached its end-of-life cycle. When looking to increase ventilation, the focus should be on optimizing HVAC equipment while rehabilitating and sealing ductwork infrastructure to eliminate air leakage.”
said Joshua Lewis, is the Head of Engineering at NERVA Energy
Over the last eighteen months, the Cleaner Air for Schools program has quickly become the gold standard for indoor air quality and energy efficiency within Ontario’s education sector, helping schools increase airflow by an average of 40%, while reducing GHG emissions an average of 27.7%.
“Canada’s Clean50 Top Project Awards are amongst the awards announced annually by Delta Management Group and the Canada’s Clean50 organization, to recognize the best sustainability oriented projects completed in Canada over the prior two years. Projects are chosen based on a five “I”s criteria: Impactful, Innovative, Inspiring, Informative and can readily be Imitated”
“Delta’s criteria in determining Project awards is to carefully consider a combination of actual measurable impact, demonstrated innovation, and the project’s ability to inspire others to imitate it – and Cleaner Air + Lower Energy For Schools completed by Nerva Energy Group Inc. is a terrific example”
said Gavin Pitchford, CEO, Delta Management Group.
The Cleaner Air for Schools Program has been a vital resource for school boards seeking to address ductwork and mechanical system inefficiencies, while having a measurable positive impact on our environment. Indeed, the program has raised the bar on indoor air quality and sustainability, and is well positioned to be deployed to other sectors struggling with indoor air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, such as healthcare, offices, and retail. To learn about the program, view case studies and testimonials, visit: www.cleanerairforschools.com.
We deliver real-world solutions that improve indoor air quality, maximize energy performance, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
We do not own any proprietary technology, instead, we use existing technologies in unique and practical ways to solve complex mechanical problems. Our award-winning engineers specialize in identifying innovative prop-tech solutions that drive energy efficiency, provide quick paybacks, and deliver measurable results. To learn more about our energy advisory services, visit: www.nervaenergy.com
289-856-9717 ext. #111
About Delta Management Group / Canada’s Clean50:
Leading sustainability and clean tech search firm Delta Management Group in 2011 founded, and remains the steward of the Canada’s Clean50 awards. The awards were created to annually identify, recognize and connect 50 sustainability leaders, 10-20 Emerging Leaders and Top Projects from every sector of Canadian endeavour. The firm also annually convenes the Clean50 Summit, in order to facilitate understanding, collaboration and innovation in the fight to keep human caused climate impacts below 1.5 degrees.