Celebrating Clean Air Day with our Partners on June 8th
The TCI and Nerva team wish to recognize Cleaner Air for Schools Partners who have taken a leadership role in the Province enhancing the quality of air in classrooms creating healthier, safer more sustainable places to teach and learn. We would like to recognize the facilities teams for their tireless efforts to keep learning and teaching front and centre during the pandemic while meeting the Board’s strategic efforts during such trying times.
A little background on Cleaner Air for Schools
The Cleaner Air for Schools Program, a combination of two award-winning technologies, REME LED and Duct Sealing that align with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE’s) recommendations and help increase ventilation, improve the flow of fresh air, while also destroying airborne viruses and surface bacteria.
Many school boards in Ontario are installing ‘Aerosolized Duct Sealing’ across their portfolio of school sites to eliminate air leakage from ductwork. This will result in better HVAC efficiency, increased ventilation and improved filtration and comfort for occupants. In essence, this technology ensures that all of the air supplied and returned through ventilation systems is delivered to the spaces that students and staff occupy, rather than leaking out into ceilings and mechanical spaces which do not require ventilation. While the focus has been on increasing air volume, during our air audit measurement process we determine whether energy savings and GHG reductions can be harvested now or in the future.
CAFS partners experience an average increase in airflow of 39% in Ontario including schools, colleges and universities. Once an air audit is completed Nerva helps customers determine which path to take: increase airflow or harvest energy and carbon reduction savings. Coincidentally we recently completed a college that experienced 39% reduction in GHG emissions.
The Cleaner Air for Schools Program also includes the REME-LED Active Air Purification system designed to reduce aerosolized bacteria and viruses and those on surfaces by 99.9%.
Clean Air begins with Great Leadership
Grand Erie District School Board represents more than 25,000 students in 58 elementary schools and 14 secondary schools within the City of Brantford and the counties of Brant, Haldimand, and Norfolk as well as secondary students from Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. With a dedicated staff of more than 2,500, Grand Erie is committed to learning, leading and inspiring.
In February 2020 Grand Erie signed a memorandum of understanding as a partner in the Climate Change Leaders learning partnership with Mohawk College and ten area school districts. The group’s goals included support for carbon neutrality for schools, demonstrating new technology, and creating experiential learning and job opportunities for students.
In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Grand Erie and two local schools took on a leadership role in education to be the first in Ontario to retrofit their HVAC systems with REME-LED in-duct, active air purification technology and duct sealing for increased ventilation. These improvements provided students and staff with a virus- and bacteria-reduced environment, increased airflow, and introduced potential energy and carbon reduction saving strategies. Since that time the program has rolled out to 50% of schools with ventilation, increasing airflow on average by 30 percent, and benefiting half of our students and staff across the Board.
Lead by example
When we approached Domenic Maniccia, Manager of Facility Services, to take the lead on this proven technology demonstration he weighed in on the benefits and agreed, “We have to take a proactive approach when it comes to air quality at our school facilities, knowing full well that indoor air quality was paramount to safe learning environments. We looked to our partners in the Climate Change Leaders Hub to determine what technologies we could deploy now and beyond the pandemic,” states Domenic.
Game Changing Measures
While the pandemic has remained a core focus for many, Grand Erie continues to keep their eye on strategies to reduce energy and carbon. While implementing the Duct Sealing and HVAC Optimization, Grand Erie installed VFDs to take advantage of future energy and carbon savings when the timing is right.
“As we come out of the pandemic, we will be focussed on providing improved ventilation in all schools, as well as looking at strategies to reduce our GHG emission footprint. We are doing several facility energy audits that will help create a GHG reduction strategy for our Board to meet emission targets for 2030 and beyond”.
This week we are featuring District School Board Ontario North East (DSB1) an Ontario English Public-School Board serving Northeastern Ontario from Hearst to Temagami.
They have incorporated three very important elements into their approach to clean air at DSB1: Culture, Innovation and Equity, the three priorities of the Board’s strategic plan.
We interviewed Carole Horton, Manager of Building Services, District School Board Ontario North East regarding their focus on clean air in classrooms. “Creating a culture that includes caring, wellness and modelling high expectations especially when it comes to safety brings peace of mind which is important to our team, staff, students and parents”, says Carole.
Innovation is really about creative problem solving. “During the pandemic we had to solve many problems quickly. One of the problems was to reduce airbourne viruses and bacteria through filtration and increased airflow per ASHRAE standards. Another problem that we needed to address was disinfection. And finally, the education piece provided hybrid learning for student safety and many other COVID-19 procedures. We found innovative technologies that are safe and proven to do this” states Carole.
“Making sure every school is safe, healthy and effective is a big part of our plan. We have completed roughly half of our schools with the goal to complete the rest between now and next year for equitable places to work and learn” Carole explains. “We made sure that every school in our portfolio and sure every student is being served as part of the plan, not to mention removing barriers for learning.”
The other key ingredient is Teamwork especially when it comes to sharing the load and getting things done. The pandemic has increased work load for facilities departments in school boards across the province, in terms of providing healthy and safe, hybrid, sustainable teaching and learning environments.
‘If you want to go fast go alone if you want to go far go together.” African Proverb.
And you can’t do it alone. “Our facilities team like others have been faced with supply chain issues and finding resources, human resources, people to get things done was a challenge”, exclaims Carole. “Our Board, schools and our staff have been very understanding about what needs to get done. They’ve been living through a lot of construction and I haven’t heard many complaints. We don’t usually do this much construction during the school year, and for them to live through it among everything else that is going on is a sign of our culture, a culture of teamwork and resiliency”, says Carole.
“I see this as a learning experience for the kids, because the ceilings are open in the schools, and they could see what’s up there, take pictures and investigate. There’s a lot of things that the students can be learning in terms of energy, carbon and demand management, utility consumption to mention a few. We hope to contribute more experiential learning opportunities for students in support of STEM with our educators”, says Carole.
Partnerships and Engagement make a Difference
The Renfrew County District School Board, residing in the heart of the Ottawa Valley, the Renfrew County District School Board (RCDSB) stretches all the way from Deep River in the north-west, to Arnprior in the south-east and Barry’s Bay along the north-east edge of Algonquin Park. A strategic priority for the Board is to Inspire Community Engagement and Partnerships in everything they do including clean air.
Back in the Spring of 2020 RCDSB joined the Cleaner Air for Schools Partnership with a test pilot of three schools with REME LED and Duct Sealing. Since that time and a lot of communication back and forth, they have extended Cleaner Air for schools partnership across their entire portfolio of schools.
The Board has proactively engaged all stakeholders in communications about the program on its Website, social media, community events and interviews with media to get the message out. In November 24, 2021 TCI and co-hosted a community event with the Board including local hospital college, school board and National Research Institute to share its Clean Air for Schools strategies and results. In addition Principal memos and Cleaner Air for Schools Decals have been provided to participating schools with a scannable QR that links to Board’s Website for more information on ventilation and air purification for parents, students and staff providing information and commonly asked questions and answers.